To mark the day the period of the Olympic Truce traditionally begins, one week before the opening of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham highlighted the UK’s commitment to the Olympic Truce ideals of conflict prevention and peace.
“I am delighted that the UK’s efforts to raise the ambition of what the Olympic Truce can help achieve have been embraced by the international community. Our journey began last October when the UK put forward an Olympic Truce Resolution in the UN General Assembly, which was co-sponsored by all 193 UN Members States. I believe this unprecedented show of support should be described as the first world record of the London Games.
“Since then, working in partnership with host Governments, parliamentarians, National Olympic Committees, NGOs and faith groups, our diplomatic missions have delivered over 50 events internationally, bringing together diverse communities affected by conflict to participate in sporting, cultural or educational activities to promote conflict prevention and peace. These include:
- In the Caribbean, we have worked with the National Olympic Association and local NGOs to organise football tournaments for local rival gangs.
- Our Embassy in Khartoum brought together young people from different communities from Sudan and South Sudan, specifically refugees and residents from Darfur, to play in a football tournament, building on ongoing work to create a youth football league.
- In Sri Lanka, we hosted a Paralympic-style sports day for disabled soldiers, disabled ex-combatants and disabled civilians. Sport acted as a “quiet diplomat”, bringing together former adversaries to understand each others’ perspectives, embracing diversity and encouraging inclusivity.
- In Thailand, we organised a media development course for key reporters and commentators on the violence in Southern Thailand, encouraging more objective journalism which can be consumed widely without fear of fuelling further discontent.
“We look forward to passing on the baton to future host nations. Sochi 2014, Rio 2016 and Pyeongchang 2018 will all be excellent opportunities to continue the mobilisation of the Olympic Truce ideals. We have welcomed support from the International Olympic Committee and the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace for our international work. We are encouraged by this collective interest. The challenge for the international community is to now ensure that when future UN Olympic Truce Resolutions are adopted, a practical approach to mobilising the ideals of conflict prevention and peace is implemented.”
Notes to Editors
- The ancient 8th Century BC Greek tradition of the Olympic Truce calls a peaceful environment, ensuring safe passage and participation of athletes and relevant persons at the Games, thus mobilising the youth of the world in support of peace. The International Olympic Committee revived this concept in 1992 and the first United Nations (UN) General Assembly Resolution was passed. It is renewed every two years in advance of the summer and winter Games
- The UK sponsored the record breaking UN Resolution on the Olympic Truce entitled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal” on 17 October 2011. In an unprecedented show of support, all 193 UN Member States co-sponsored the Resolution at the UN in New York, signing up to the ideals of peace and conflict resolution and the premise that individuals, not countries, compete against each other in sport in peaceful competition without the burden of politics, religion, or racism.
- The traditional period of the Olympic Truce runs from a week before the Olympic Games until a week after the Olympic Games. The UN Resolution signed up to by all 193 UN member states covers the period from the start of the Olympic Games to the last day of the Paralympic Games.
- Further details of the Olympic Truce and a full catalogue of overseas activities can be found on our website: www.fco.gov.uk/en/global-issues/london-2012/olympic-truce
- The UN Resolution entitled ‘Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal’ can be found here: www.un.org/wcm/webdav/site/sport/shared/sport/pdfs/Resolutions/A-RES-66-5/A-RES-66-5_EN.pdf
- The President of the UN General Assembly has made a Solemn Appeal to all UN Member States to demonstrate their commitment to the Olympic Truce for the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games. The President of the General Assembly’s Solemn Appeal can be found here: www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=a/66/862