The UN General Assembly recently adopted the resolution, by consensus, “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic Ideal,” supporting the Olympic Truce aimed to ensure the safe passage and participation of athletes and spectators at February’s XXIII Olympic Winter Games, The PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, in the Republic of Korea.
The consensus for the resolution included both the Republic of Korea and the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea as well as the future hosts of the Olympic Games: Japan, China, France and the United States of America.
“With the Olympic Truce resolution, the United Nation General Assembly is creating the conditions for all athletes to compete in peace,” said International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, Thomas Bach.
“Only the UN Member States can guarantee the athletes a safe passage to the Olympic Games. They make it possible for all the Olympic athletes to realize their dream of a lifetime,” said Bach, an Olympic Champion and Chair of the Olympic Channel Services board of directors.
Calling on the nations of the world to uphold the Olympic Truce for the time of the Olympic Winter Games, the resolution’s first operative clause 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.”
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. Taking into account the global context in which sport and the Olympic Games exist, the 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.
“This is an ideal based on humanity. It says that, no matter what is going on in state capitals around the world, people will always have a space in which to engage and connect,” said Lajčák, who was installed as President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly in September.
“More and more, the United Nations is working to engage and empower young people all over the world. We must reach out to young people in a way that will resonate with them. Sport offers a major opportunity in this respect. We have already seen some success, through the mobilization of athletes and sports teams to promote the Sustainable Development Goals. We should work to support, replicate and expand these examples,” said Lajčák.
This Olympic Truce call is especially important, given the time and place of these Olympic Winter Games. The global and symbolic concept focuses on mobilizing youth for the promotion of the Olympic ideals; utilizing sport to establish contacts between communities in conflict; offer humanitarian support in countries at war, and more generally, to create a window of opportunities for dialogue and reconciliation.
“I firmly believe the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will help spread the message of peace through one of the few languages that has the power to unite people around the world: the graceful and universal language of sport,” said Republic of Korea Olympic gold medalist and Honorary Ambassador (alongside Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in) for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games 2018, Yuna Kim.
South Korea’s national team surprised the world by ranking 5th place in the medals table (gold, silver and bronze) at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, winning a bronze medal in the Men’s Soccer tournament. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, South Korea won the gold medal for baseball with several South Korean players now enjoying great popularity among fans in the United States and Japan.
With a large, and growing, number of sports lovers and efficient investment, Moon is now at the helm of a country striving to find promising young athletes, train them efficiently, and help them build their skills by accumulating a wealth of experience in domestic competitions.
Encouraging South Koreans to engage in more positive physical activities, by providing support for sports clubs, the country has world-class sporting facilities dedicated solely to the training of athletes selected for international events including the Asian Games and Olympics.
“I would like to share with you my commitment that I will do my utmost as an Honorary Ambassador to make the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games as the one that all our people in Korea can take pride in,” said Moon, leader of a country with one of the world’s most heavily militarized borders with North Korea.
In July 2000, the International Olympic Committee, in close cooperation with Greece, established the International Olympic Truce Foundation and its operational arm, the International Olympic Truce Centre. With the goal of reviving the ancient tradition of the Olympic Truce, in the past 17 years the IOC and Olympians have called for an awakening of consciousness, the motivation of leaders to act, mobilization to promote the Olympic ideal and the education of youth in conformity with the principles of Olympism.
“The Olympic athletes show the whole world that it is possible to compete with each other while living peacefully together under one roof at the same time,” said Bach.
“For the athletes who will gather in PyeongChang for the Olympic Winter Games, this resolution will carry a special significance, a deeply personal one.”
The tradition of the Olympic Truce has ensured a halt of all hostilities, allowing the safe passage and participation of athletes and spectators taking part in the Olympic Games. Then as now, the Olympic Games are a symbol of hope and peace.
The Olympic Winter Games 2018 will take place in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea, from February 9 to 25, 2018 and will be followed by the Paralympic Games in March.