Olympic Truce declaration signed in Ancient Olympia

On the eve of the Olympic flame-lighting for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, the Mayors of Ancient Olympia, Ilida and Sparta gathered in Olympia to sign a declaration of the Olympic Truce, highlighting once again the role of the Olympic Games as a symbol of peace and unity. The declaration was co-signed by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou, as well as other prominent personalities and organisations.

Signing of the Olympic Truce in the Archaeological Museum of Olympia

The Olympic Truce, or “Ekecheiria”, is a tradition that was established in Ancient Greece in the ninth century BC through the signing of a treaty between three kings: Iphitos of Elis, Cleosthenes of Pisa and Lycurgus of Sparta. As a result of the accord, during the Truce period, all regional conflicts came to an end to allow athletes, artists and their families, as well as the general public, to travel in safety to participate in or attend the ancient Olympic Games and return afterwards to their respective countries. The political neutrality of the Olympic Games was thus already respected in ancient times.

“It is a strong signal when Olympia, Ilida and Sparta, the original parties to the Ekecheiria, are renewing their pledge,” the IOC President said at the signing ceremony. “I want to congratulate and thank you for keeping the ancient heritage alive and for setting this example.”

United Nations support for the Olympic Truce

In 1991, the IOC decided to revive the concept of the Olympic Truce on the occasion of the Olympic Games, with a view to protecting, as far as possible, the interests of the athletes and sport in general, and to contribute to the search for peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the world’s conflicts. In making a worldwide appeal for the Truce to be observed once more, the IOC negotiated with the United Nations (UN) to allow athletes from the former Republic of Yugoslavia to participate in the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992 under the Olympic flag.

Since 1993, the UN General Assembly has repeatedly expressed its support for the IOC by unanimously adopting, every two years – a year before each edition of the Olympic Games – a resolution entitled "Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal". Through this resolution, the UN calls upon its Member States to observe the Olympic Truce and to seek the peaceful settling of all international conflicts. The resolution proposed to the UN ahead of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 will be voted on later this year.

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