Softpower was defined by Joseph Nye, a specialist in international relations at Harvard University in 1990. The concept is born and rapidly spreads across academic, political and economic environments. Nye defines it as follows: “a country can obtain the results it wants in world politics because simply other countries – wanting to share its values, emulate its example, aspire to achieve its level of prosperity, etc. – want to follow it” .
The recent Tokyo Olympics have been a clear example of this soft power. The thousands of drones forming the world ball on top of the Olympic stadium, in the opening ceremony, will be one of the images of the games to remember where art and technology coexist in harmony. The enormous effort that the Japanese people have made to carry out the Olympic Games in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic will go down in history. The Japanese country has given many interesting signals in these Olympics beyond sports. One that I would like to highlight is that, despite the great push from China, they have shown that they continue to be a reference in technology, innovation, design with their own and differential discourse.
All this contemporary discourse always has deep roots in its culture. They have managed to make it spread throughout the world and make it perfectly recognizable from the point of view of its architecture, gastronomy, traditions … The inventor country of Judo, which could be translated as a path of flexibility, shows us that the subtle and Apparent squishy really strengthens. They knew that this Olympics was an opportunity to demonstrate their softpower to the world and from my point of view they have succeeded.
Culture and sports are part of this softpower just like education, technology or business. There are countries for which this power is a matter of state. The closest and most prominent cases are France and the United Kingdom. In France, culture and sport is a national priority and its definitive impulse comes from the presidency of François Mitterrand in 1981 to the present day, whoever rules governs. The French bring to the world the concept of cultural exception. This term means that the promotion of culture is in the national interest, which is why it deserves differential treatment from the point of view of investment, protection and encouragement. In addition, the cultural exception means defending its own cultural and creative industry with all its diplomatic power against any attack. France has demonstrated this on numerous occasions, such as when it took on the almighty American audiovisual industry in the days of François Hollande. or highlighting their contribution to the Olympic movement with the image of Emmanuel Macron at the opening ceremony of the empty Olympic stadium in Tokyo enthusiastically greeting the French Olympic delegation. This concept of cultural exception has been incorporated by many other countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany … Unfortunately, Spain has not incorporated it for reasons that escape all logic.
The same could be said of the UK in terms of its commitment to cultural exception and the uncompromising defense of the cultural and creative industry as a matter of state. The work “The UK Creative Industries” has recently been published, with the subtitle “Unleashing the power and potential of creativity”, which we could translate as unlocking the power and potential of creativity. In this study, the foreword of which is jointly written by the secretaries of state of Digital, culture, media & sports next to that of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, I would like to highlight a paragraph of this magnificent work that I directly translate into Spanish “the creative industries are the industries of the future. They are an engine of economic growth and creation. They promote innovation and make communities in all parts of the United Kingdom, happier places and healthier for us to live. ”
Ingredients that demonstrate Britain’s global leadership in Softpower They are shown in this work: first with a political commitment at the highest and interministerial level promoted by the presidency of the country; second, with a lot of public and private investment sustained over time and finally, with a clear strategic vision. All this as we can see in the aforementioned work. It is convenient to remember to measure the data that the cultural and creative industry, in which the British include sport, the United Kingdom has contributed 11.7% to GDP in 2019. In that same year, tourism, one of our main economic engines, contributed 12.4% of GDP in Spain
In this article I have wanted to give some examples of how the so-called soft power really strengthens the economy and the image of countries both internally and externally. I finish with the revealing data that of the top 10 countries in the medal table of the recently concluded Tokyo Olympic Games, 7 coincide with the “the softpower 30” ranking that analyzes the main powers in this field. Spain is not among the top 10 neither in the medal table nor in the softpower ranking. We hope that in the next games in Paris 2024, in the country of cultural exception, we can talk about Spain being among the top 10 countries both in the medal table and in the ranking of softpower and we finally realize that soft power really does strengthen.