Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for the observance of the Olympic Truce, calling on everyone engaged in armed hostilities to lay down their weapons and cease hostilities.
“The participants in the Sochi Games may carry the flags of many nations, but they come together under the shared banner of equality, fair play, mutual respect and non-discrimination,” Mr. Ban said in his message.
“I encourage all those involved in the games – Governments, groups, organizations and individuals – to uphold and defend these core Olympic ideals,” he added.
The symbolic Truce starts one week before the XXII Olympic Winter Games, due to take place 7 to 23 February, and will run until a week after the closing of the XI Paralympic Winter Games, to be held 7 to 16 March.
The ancient Greek tradition of the ekecheiria, or Olympic Truce, was born in the eighth century BC “to encourage a peaceful environment and ensure safe passage, access and participation for athletes and relevant persons at the Games, thereby mobilizing the youth of the world to the cause of peace.”
Making today’s appeal, Mr. Ban noted that his thoughts “are with the people of Syria, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan,” as well as the victims of the recent bombings in Volgograd, near Sochi.
The Secretary-General noted that the Truce is rooted in the hope that if people and Governments can put aside their differences for one day, they can build on that to establish more lasting cease-fires and “find paths towards durable peace, prosperity and human rights.”
Just three days ago, UN General Assembly President John Ashe issued his own solemn appeal for UN Member States to observe the historic tradition of ceasing hostilities ahead of the Games.
In November, the 193-Member Assembly underlined the importance of cooperating to “collectively implement the values of the Olympic truce around the world.”
In a resolution adopted by consensus, Members agreed to “cooperate with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) 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 holding of the Games.
The resolution has itself become a tradition at the UN, being passed every two years preceding the holding of the Winter and Summer Games respectively.