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Olympic Truce

In ancient times a truce (in Greek, ekecheiria, which literally means "holding of hands") was announced before and during the Games. This sacred truce enabled athletes and spectators to travel to the Olympic games without fearing for their safety. The truce stated that wars were to be suspended, armies could not enter the land or threaten the games, and all legal disputes and enforcement of the death penalty were forbidden during the games. The truce began seven days before the Olympics and continued until seven days after the Olympics.

Today, the truce offers:

  1. A respite from conflict and strife
  2. A window of time for dialogue and understanding between nations
  3. A pause to provide humanitarian assistance and relief from suffering
  4. Help for athletes from areas of conflict to attend and compete in the Olympic and Paralympic Games
  5. The opportunity for competitors, officials and spectators irrespective of their ethnic origin, gender, culture, religion, language or political system to live and compete in unity, peace and harmony
  6. The opportunity for individuals from around the world to observe the spirit of unity and friendship that exists during the Games, and to reflect on how these values can be promoted in their local communities and countries

Taken from Get Set for the London2012.com – Olympic Truce – Fact File

The Olympics celebrate humanity and the virtues of competition through peace, sport and the values of Olympism. In an effort to further the aspects of peace and friendship associated with the Games, The Olympic Truce was re-introduced at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona in order to allow athletes from the Former Republic of Yugoslavia to attend the games. In 1993, The UN pledged its support to the Olympic Truce though a resolution entitled "Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal".

Through the Olympic Truce the International Olympic Committee aims to:

  1. mobilize youth for the promotion of the Olympic ideals;
  2. use sport to establish contacts between communities in conflict; and
  3. offer humanitarian support in countries at war ; and more generally
  4. to create a window of opportunities for dialogue and reconciliation.

Taken from Olympic.org – The Olympic Truce: It's Relevance Today

The Olympic Truce is an expression of the desire to construct a world based on the fair competition, humanity, reconciliation and tolerance.

"Sport alone cannot enforce or maintain peace. But it has a vital role to play in building a better and more peaceful world."
Dr Jacques Rogge, IOC President, October 2007.

Munich 1936*

Conflict exists on every level – regional, international, interpersonal, racial, gender – and perhaps nothing demonstrates the power of sport better than the story of Jesse Owens and Luz Long.

The story takes place at the Berlin 1936 Olympic Games.

J.C. "Jesse" Owens had already won gold twice in the 100 meter and 200 meter sprints. The stadium was filled to capacity as Owens prepared for the long jump. His only real opponent was Germany's Ludwig "Luz" Long. By the fifth round both men were tied at 7.89 meters, a new Olympic record. With his final jump, Owens cleared 8.06 meters and won gold. Long took silver.

Hitler left the stadium in disgust, without acknowledging Owens' achievement.

The two men hugged each other, cheered on wildly by the crowd, and established a bond that lasted for years, transcending war, ideology and racial divide.

Owens and Long experienced their own Olympic Truce. They celebrated the peaceful power of Olympism.

Tokyo 1964

In 1964 Japan became the first Asian Nation to host the Games. The Games symbolized Japan's re–entrance back into the global community after World War I. The Olympic flame was carried by Yoshinori Sakai, born on August 6th, 1945, the same day the atomic bomb exploded in Hiroshima, as a symbol of peace and to honor the victims.

Barcelona 1992

Following political changes including the end of Apartheid and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Olympic Games had no boycotts for the first time since 1972. In addition, the Olympic Truce was re–adopted by the IOC in order to allow athletes from the Former Republic of Yugoslavia to attend the Games.

Sydney 2000*

South Korea and North Korea paraded into the stadium together during the Opening Ceremony, under a single flag representing the Korean peninsula. This was a powerful symbolic event demonstrating the promise of the ancient tradition of the Olympic Truce.

The Sydney Games were also a symbol of reconciliation and respect toward the Aboriginal populations of Australia, with Cathy Freeman lighting the Olympic flame. Freeman went on to win a gold medal in the 400m race.

Athens 2004*

The participation of Afghanistan and Iraq, two countries bloodied by conflict, demonstrated the unifying, reconstructive power of sport. A video message from United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, recognizing the contribution of Olympism and the Olympic Truce, was broadcast ahead of the opening ceremony. World leaders and athletes pledged their support for Olympic Truce on a specially constructed Truce Wall erected in the historic Zappeion building, opposite the stadium built for the 1896 Olympic Games.

Taken from OlympicTruce.org – Olympic Truce Achievements

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