Sport and Peace: Olympic Truce adopted by UN General Assembly

The Olympic Truce for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games was approved last Monday by the United Nations General Assembly.  The resolution titled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and Olympic ideal” calls on nations of the world for the cessation of all global conflict for the duration of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. It was formally submitted to the General Assembly by South Korea, on behalf of the Olympic Movement and the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee (POCOG), led by its President Lee Hee-beom.

The first operative clause of the resolution specifically asks Member States “to ensure the safe passage, access and participation of athletes, officials and all other accredited persons taking part in the Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games”.

It also urges countries to cease conflicts during the period of the Olympic Truce that begins seven days before the opening of the Olympic Winter Games and until the seventh day after the closing of the Paralympic Winter Games. During this time countries are urged to harness sport to foster and encourage concrete action that promotes dialogue and reconciliation during the Games and beyond.

The tradition of the “Truce” or “Ekecheiria” was established in ancient Greece in the 9th century BC by the signature of a treaty between three kings. During the Truce period, the athletes, artists and their families, as well as ordinary pilgrims, could travel in total safety to participate in or attend the Olympic Games and return afterwards to their respective countries. As the opening of the Games approached, the sacred truce was proclaimed and announced by citizens of Elis who travelled throughout Greece to pass on the message.

Taking into account the global context in which sport and the Olympic Games exist, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to revive the ancient concept of the Olympic Truce with the view to protecting, as far as possible, the interests of the athletes and sport in general, and to encourage searching for peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the conflicts around the world.