JICA Ogata Research Institute

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Creating a Safe Space for Peaceful Coexistence Through National Sporting Events in South Sudan

Even after gaining independence, South Sudan has experienced repeated outbreaks of conflict. Under these circumstances, national sports events have been held under the theme of “Peace and Social Cohesion.” This paper aims to verify the role that national sporting events play in promoting social capital among the athletes who participated in the event. The finding of the paper shows that by creating a safe space for peaceful coexistence during the sporting event, athletes were able to overcome their anxiety toward other ethnic groups, and through their interactions with other athletes, develop mutual respect and friendships. This, in turn, led to a reduction of their prejudice toward other ethnic groups and to greater trust and networks among athletes. As the paper suggests, sports events may help to promote social capital for ethnic reconciliation by providing a safe space for peaceful coexistence in South Sudan.

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