In the fields of politics, history and international relations, the phrase sport diplomacy has attracted a growing multi-disciplinary interest in debate around relations between different actors. In this article we trace the emergence of academic literature connected to sport diplomacy and further identify the relevant empirical, conceptual and theoretical frames used to study sport diplomacy. Using an integrated review approach, we collected peer-reviewed journal articles published between 2000 and 2020, with 224 articles subsequently analysed for key attributes such as research location and type of diplomacy. The results and discussion support and challenge some current tropes connected to sport diplomacy research, such as the overreliance on case studies, lack of theoretical consistency and dominance of research from higher-income countries. Further, we highlight opportunities for scholars to develop empirical and theoretical bridges between fields to overcome disciplinary differences and engage with the growing organisational interest to operationalise sport diplomacy. This review of sport diplomacy literature and opens up lines of inquiry for sport management and sport development scholars to further advance our understanding of sport diplomacy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSport Management Review
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2022


  • Sport diplomacy
  • integrated review
  • international relations
  • nation building
  • sport development
  • sport management


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