Photo © IOC / Greg Martin
The resolution entitled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal” was adopted today by consensus and co-sponsored by 173 Member States at the 76th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly (GA) in New York. It calls for the observance of the Olympic Truce for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Beijing 2022, from seven days before the start of the Olympic Games, on 4 February 2022, until seven days after the end of the Paralympic Games.
The resolution “underlines the importance of cooperation among Member States to collectively implement the values of the Olympic Truce around the world, and emphasises the important role of the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the United Nations in this regard”.
It also expresses “the expectation that the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 will be a meaningful opportunity to harness the power of sport to advance the world by fostering an atmosphere of peace, development, resilience, tolerance and understanding, and welcoming all the delegations of National Olympic and Paralympic Committees to participate in the Games”.
The resolution “calls upon all Member States to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee in their efforts to use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and beyond the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games”.
“The IOC very much welcomes the great support for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 by all the UN Member States, expressed through the adoption by consensus of the Truce Resolution. This is a great recognition of the mission of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to unite the best athletes of the world in peaceful competition, and standing above any political dispute,” IOC President Thomas Bach said.
During the debate on the resolution, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was represented by IOC Member and Permanent Observer for the IOC to the UN, Luis Alberto Moreno. He delivered the speech of the IOC President, who could not be present due to the current pandemic situation.
In the speech, the IOC President stressed the importance of peace and solidarity in our divided world: “By adopting this resolution, you are supporting the mission of the Olympic Games to unite the best winter sport athletes of the entire world, without any discrimination whatsoever, in a peaceful and respectful competition. This bond of our shared humanity is even more relevant in our polarised world today.”
“We can only accomplish this mission if the Olympic Games stand above and beyond all political, cultural and other differences. This is only possible if the Olympic Games are politically neutral and do not become a tool to achieve political goals,” he continued.
The Olympic Truce has a 3,000 year-old history, dating from when the Ancient Greeks established the “Ekecheiria” – a sacred truce – to allow the participation in the Olympic Games of all athletes and spectators from the Greek city-states, which were otherwise almost constantly engaged in conflict with one other.
“In this way, there was from the very beginning an inseparable link between the Olympic Games and peace, which allowed the ancient Olympic Games to take place for approximately 1,000 years. Just a couple of weeks ago, the original parties of the Ekecheiria – the cities of Olympia, Ilida and Sparta – have solemnly renewed their pledge with their Olympic Truce declaration. I hope that this meaningful initiative is an encouragement for all UN Member States,” the IOC President said in his speech.
He went on: “History also shows us what happens if the political neutrality of the Olympic Games is not respected. The ancient Olympic Games came to an end when the Roman emperor Theodosius effectively abolished them for political reasons. It took almost 2,000 years before the Olympic Games could be revived by our founder, Pierre de Coubertin. I hope very much that we all take this lesson of history to heart.”
IOC President Bach explained: “Today, the Olympic athletes demonstrate to the entire world that yes, it is possible to be fierce rivals and engage in intense competition, while at the same time living peacefully and respectfully together. In the Olympic Village, the athletes from every corner of the world are living together in harmony. In the Olympic Games, we are all equal, irrespective of social background, gender, race, sexual orientation, or political belief. In the Olympic Games, everyone respects the same rules – rules set by the IOC and the Olympic Charter. In this spirit, the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 will be an important moment.”
In the speech, he also reminded the UN General Assembly about the consequences of the pandemic and the challenges the world is facing today. “This has taught us one lesson: we can only go faster, we can only aim higher, we can only become stronger, if we work together. This is why the IOC amended the Olympic motto to: Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together”. The word ‘together’ tells us: We need more solidarity. More solidarity within societies and more solidarity among societies. Because: there is no peace without solidarity,” President Bach concluded.
Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), also stressed the importance of the resolution: “At the International Paralympic Committee, our vision is to make for a more inclusive world through Para sport. We believe that sport can bring people of all backgrounds together in peace and have a transformational impact on societies. We have already shown this year how the Paralympic and Olympic Games are a showcase for human endeavour, resilience and hope. When the world comes together in friendship we send a powerful message that we are celebrating difference, displaying the best of humanity, and showing that there is unity in diversity. At the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, sport and peace will be united, and our athletes will deliver performances that will inspire and empower. These Games will continue to transform attitudes and lead to greater social inclusion for the world’s 1.2 billion persons with disabilities. Change starts with sport, and together we can create a more peaceful world.”
The resolution was co-sponsored by 173 out of 193 UN Member States.
The tradition of the Ekecheiria
The Olympic Truce, or Ekecheiria, is a tradition that was established in Ancient Greece in the ninth century BC to ensure a halt of all hostilities, allowing the safe passage and participation of athletes and spectators taking part in the Olympic Games.
Since 1993, the UN General Assembly has repeatedly expressed its support for the Olympic Games and the IOC, by adopting, every two years, a year before each edition of the Olympic Games, a resolution entitled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal”.
Through this symbolic resolution, the UN invites its Member States to observe the Olympic Truce individually or collectively, and to seek, in conformity with the goals and principles of the United Nations Charter, the peaceful settling of all international conflicts through peaceful and diplomatic means, and to recognise the importance of the IOC’s initiatives for human well-being and international understanding.
Keeping the ancient heritage alive
On 17 October this year, on the eve of the flame-lighting for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, the original parties to the Ekecheiria – the cities of Olympia, Ilida and Sparta – solemnly renewed their pledge with their Olympic Truce declaration, highlighting once again the role of the Olympic Games as a symbol of peace and unity.
The Olympic Games Beijing 2022 will take place from 4 to 20 February 2022, and will be followed by the Paralympic Games, from 4 to 13 March 2022.
The International Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit, civil, non-governmental, international organisation made up of volunteers which is committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the wider sporting movement, which means that every day the equivalent of USD 3.4 million goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.