Less than two weeks before the 2008 Summer Olympics begin in Beijing, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today joined the General Assembly in calling on all those who are at war to observe the traditional two-week Olympic Truce.
“Let them lay down their weapons, if only temporarily, so that humanity can lay claim to gold even before the Games begin,” he said in a message ahead of the Games.
Such a truce, while limited in duration, can provide a pause in which to reconsider the heavy cost of war, as well as an opening to initiate a dialogue and a window to provide relief for suffering populations, he said.
“It can demonstrate to the world that peace is possible in even the most seemingly intractable situations if we truly work towards it,” he added.
In 1992, the International Olympic Committee renewed the ancient Greek tradition of the ekecheiria, or ‘Olympic Truce,’ by calling on all nations to observe the Truce.
In a resolution adopted last October, the 192-member General Assembly urged countries to observe the Truce during the forthcoming XXIX Olympiad and the Paralympic Games to be held in Beijing, from 8 to 24 August and from 6 to 17 September, respectively, based on the slogan “One World, One Dream.”
In his solemn appeal in connection with the observance of the Truce, the President of the Assembly Srgjan Kerim noted that “the Games will bring together athletes from all parts of the world in the greatest of international sports events as a means to promote peace, mutual understanding and goodwill among nations and peoples — goals that are also part of the founding values of the United Nations.”
It was as an expression of these common objectives that in 1998 the International Olympic Committee decided to fly the UN flag at all Olympic competition sites.
The world body and the Committee have subsequently strengthened their mutual cooperation and support through joint efforts in fields such as poverty alleviation, human and economic development, humanitarian assistance, education, health promotion and HIV/AIDS prevention, gender equality and environmental protection.