U.N. urges truce for all nations during Olympics

UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. General Assembly yesterday urged all nations to observe a truce during the Beijing Olympics next summer to enable all athletes to compete and help build “a peaceful and better world through sport.”

A resolution adopted by the 192-nation world body recalled the ancient Greek tradition of ekecheiria, or “Olympic Truce,” citing it as a model for encouraging a peaceful environment, ensuring safe passage for athletes and mobilizing “the youth of the world to the cause of peace.”

The truce covers Beijing’s Olympic Games set for Aug. 8-24 and the following Paralympic Games on Sept. 6-17.

The General Assembly revived the call for an Olympic Truce in 1993 after an appeal from the International Olympic Committee allowed athletes of wartorn Yugoslavia to participate in the 1992 Barcelona Games.

According to the IOC’s Web site, the General Assembly has unanimously called for a truce during each Olympics since then. But while the modern Olympics have been suspended only for the two world wars, the peaceful competitions have not halted smaller-scale conflicts.

IOC President Jacques Rogge and sports officials from a number of nations were in the General Assembly chamber for the adoption of the resolution, which was co-sponsored by 182 countries. It was approved by consensus.

Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organizing Committee, introduced the resolution, saying that “at its very heart lies the pledge to safeguard world peace and promote common development of mankind, while at the same time upholding the Olympic spirit of swifter, higher, stronger.”

“Unfortunately, regional conflicts and local turbulences still occur, making our quest for world peace more of an uphill journey,” he said. “The Olympic Games may not change the world overnight, but we have every reason to expect that the Olympic Trues … will continue to inspire the world in striving for lasting peace and common prosperity.”

The resolution urges countries to cooperate with the IOC “in its efforts to use sport as an instrument to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and beyond the Olympic Games period.”

It also urges sports organizations “to undertake concrete actions at the local, national, regional and world levels to promote and strengthen a culture of peace and harmony.”