Entering its 70 years of diplomatic relations, bilateral cooperation between Indonesia and England is increasing in many sectors such as cooperation in the fields of economy, defense, and public diplomacy in the form of education, sports, culture and tourism cooperation. The cooperation was strengthened in 2012 in the era of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and an agreement of cooperation has been increasing through a bilateral relationship between Indonesia and UK especially in sports diplomacy which is part of public diplomacy. (Pujayanti, 2012)
Public diplomacy is second track diplomacy, in which diplomacy is not only state actors who can carry out diplomacy, but non-state actors such as society can do the same thing too. It is a cooperation strategy to maintain friendship between nations and provide a framework for sharing experiences and information which is a strategy to maximize increased trade, increase business opportunities, and formulate planning and investment.
Indonesia and England have collaborated in the field of sports such as involvement in the Asian Games and the All England tournament which are very prestigious sports events in the world, and there are other various countries involved. But in 2021, there was an incident between Indonesia and England that threatens to ruin their relationship due to the conflict in the international badminton tournament, Yonex All England 2021 in which all participants from Indonesia had to withdraw from the Yonex All England 2021 tournament due to having to undergo 10 days of isolation as instructed by NHS (National Health Service) after the finding of a positive case of Covid-19 on the plane traveling from Instanbul to Bringham. This has led to many negative responses from the international society, especially Indonesia that does not accept this happening, which wants the Indonesian delegation to continue the competition.
Ties must be fixed with clear regulations
With the emergence of the conflict that occurred in the Yonex All England tournament in 2021, the bilateral relations between Indonesia and the UK were bad in international society especially in Indonesia society due to unequal treatment and discrimination against the Indonesian people. Which is supposed to take part in the competition, it requires anticipation and makes sure all delegates regardless of which country they come from, continue the competition with strict and make clear regulations in the Covid-19 pandemic situation.
The bad image of this international tournament can cause public diplomacy through sports diplomacy between Indonesia and Britain in the future will be threatened if the two countries do not improve their relationship as soon as possible and sit together to discuss a solution. Considering that diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Britain have entered the age of 70, therefore, this bilateral cooperation needs to be maintained and the tragedy in the All England badminton tournament must be resolved immediately and diplomacy must be based on the principle of equitable mutual benefits.
If this conflict is not resolved immediately, besides worsening a country’s public diplomacy cooperation, it will also affect other cooperation that has been agreed such as economy, education , and defense. Because this incident will always be remembered and always attached in minds of the international society, especially the Indonesian people, with the bad history of relations between Indonesia and England in sports competitions in 2021. Besides, a country’s public diplomacy strategy will not succeed if the international society has bad perceptions about bad activities or State Actions that have been done previously.
Therefore, Indonesia and the UK need to re-create mutual understanding and mutual confidence, maintain and foster negotiations as a means of making logical decisions by resolving substantive problems objectively which must be well described and understood, which is one aspect of achieving good public diplomacy through sports diplomacy. Public diplomacy will be successful if the international society has a good perception of a country and with the emergence of the All England incident in 2021, the good perception of the international society, especially the Indonesian people towards Britain, has disappeared, so it is necessary to rebuild mutual understanding and re-create harmony between the two countries.
*Nani Septianie, International Relations student at Universitas Islam Indonesia
Indonesia, C. (2021). Tim Indonesia Pulang Besok Usai Dipaksa Mundur di All England. Jakarta: CNN Indonesia.
Pujayanti, A. (2012). Kepentingan Nasional dan Hubungan Bilateral Indonesia Inggris. Info Singkat Hubungan Internasional Vol. IV, No. 21, 1-4.