Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) chief executive Matt Carroll has welcomed the opportunity for the organisation to play a key role in delivering the Australian Government’s Sports Diplomacy 2030 strategy.
The strategy was unveiled by the Australian Federal Government last week, with the initiative set to focus on four areas to enhance the country’s influence, reputation and national interests.
The priorities include empowering Australian sport to represent the nation globally, building links with neighbours and maximising trade, tourism and investment opportunities.
Strengthening communities in the Indo-Pacific region has also been viewed as a priority as part of the strategy.
Carroll met with Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne in Brisbane, expressing support for strategy and outlining how the AOC could help to contribute.
He highlighted the AOC’s growing involvement in regional Games, with athletes from the country set to compete at the Pacific Games for the second time in Samoa during July.
Australia are also set to compete at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou following a decision for the Olympic Council of Asia to allow athletes from countries in Oceania to compete in certain sports.
It followed the participation of the Oceania countries at the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games at Ashgabat in Turkmenistan.
"This month we were pleased to celebrate Australia’s inclusion in the Asian Games for 2022," Carroll said.
"The largest multi-sport global sporting event outside of the Olympics.
"There has been 20 years of hard work bringing this to fruition and it will benefit the entire Oceania region, not just Australia.
"In 2019 we will be sending Australian teams to the Pacific Games in Samoa during July and the inaugural World Beach Games in San Diego.
"And of course, our Winter Olympic team will be competing in Beijing in 2022.
"Each of these Games represents an opportunity for Australia to engage in a broader sense."
As well as forging links through competing at regional competitions, Carroll also highlighted the AOC’s significant role in helping countries in Oceania.
He highlighted their involvement at the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) General Assembly in Fiji.
Carroll promised he would outline the AOC’s "Olympics Unleashed" programme to National Olympic Committees in the region, while offering to help countries establish similar initiatives.
The programme sees Olympic athletes deliver lessons for students aimed at improving students’ ability to set goals, overcome challenges and build self-esteem.
More than 100 Olympians and athletes aspiring to compete at Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 are being trained by communications and education professionals before taking part in the programme.
"We will relate our experience in how Olympic and aspiring Olympic athletes can share their stories with school children in a structured programme that builds self-awareness, resilience, goal setting and motivation in that younger generation," Carroll said.
"This programme is enjoying outstanding success in Queensland, is shortly starting in NSW and is set for further expansion in 2019.
"It’s a great example of how the AOC and Government can work together to help our youth.
"We think our experience will really benefit the Pacific region.
"Our Australian Olympic athletes are also telling us if there’s a role for them assisting their Olympic counterparts throughout Oceania participate in this programme, they are willing to help.
"Importantly, this is not about recruiting athletes – it’s about assisting strengthening communities on the ground."
The Australian Government will aim to eview and update the strategy every four years.
Among the initiatives outlined as part of the strategy are increased development funding to help women and girls from Pacific nations to take part in sport, developing a programme to allow Pacific athletes to train in Australia and support their teams to compete internationally.