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Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations arrow Newsarrow Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic Ideal-Statement by the Permanent Representative Mr. A. Mitsialis

Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic Ideal-Statement by the Permanent Representative Mr. A. Mitsialis

Monday, 17 October 2011

Mr. President,

Since its inception, the ideal of the Olympic Games has been inextricably linked with the idea of the Truce. When King Ifitos of the ancient city of Olympia, worrisome of the plague of war that was devastating the region, consulted the oracle of Delphi, the answer was unequivocal. A competitive sports event was the means to replace hostilities by peace. And a peace agreement, signed between all Kings of the city-states in the region was placed in a holy shrine and the first Olympic Truce became a reality. Despite the difficulties that this project has encountered through the centuries, the tradition of Ekecheiria –as it is called in Greek- survived for 1200 years, until the fourth century AD, when the ancient Olympic Games came to an inglorious end.  

Pierre de Coubertin’s historic initiative to revive the Olympic Games in the modern era proved that the seed of Truce was alive and meant to blossom. But the two World Wars and numerous conflicts around the globe didn’t allow the idea of Truce to thrive until the early nineties, when the first UN resolution on the matter was adopted. Greece, a staunch supporter of the idea of Olympic Truce, closely worked with the IOC for the establishment in July 2000 of the International Olympic Truce Foundation, and its operational arm, the International Olympic Truce Centre.

The embracing of the concept of the Olympic Truce by the United Nations was the conclusion of a long effort and, at the same time, the beginning of a new phase for the Truce. Having started in classical times as a precondition for the holding of the Olympic Games, in the process, the Truce became a self-standing concept, closely associated with the efforts to achieve world peace. Let us not forget that, as things stand today, the Olympic Truce remains, even just for a short period of time, the most far-reaching peace agreement in our globalised world. And as such, we have the moral duty to acknowledge its importance, raise awareness and guarantee its implementation.

In our era, defined by the many challenges we face, the Olympic Truce, the forbearer of Peace, tries to pave its way through the meanders of world politics. The resolution “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal” urges all Member states to observe the Olympic Truce during the next Olympic Games.  But at the same time, it brings in the forefront the problems that our contemporary societies have to overcome and that sport can help to solve, though only to a certain extent. Because if world peace is the ultimate aim, then civic peace, economic growth, social inclusion and integration are intermediate stages that need to be crossed in order to accomplish this achievement.

Next year, and for the third time in the modern era, London will have the honour to host the Olympic Games. Compared to the last London Games in 1948, when the world was coming out of the nightmare of war, the world situation today is fundamentally different but certainly remains very challenging. We are witnessing, in many parts of the planet, the continuous quest of man for freedom, human rights and a decent life. And the Olympic Games of London certainly remind us that humanity as a whole should tackle its problems in a spirit of solidarity and brotherhood, that is the same way athletes compete in sports. And at this point let us all wish London every success in this difficult endeavour.

In ancient Greece, the Truce was proclaimed throughout the city states by a special herald. In our times, let this resolution be the herald to remind all Member States of their obligations emanating from the UN Charter to refrain from waging war and to adhere to all principles that guarantee world peace.

Thank you.

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