nternational Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and Paris 2024 Organising Committee President Tony Estanguet today welcomed the adoption by the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) of a resolution for the observance of the Olympic Truce for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024. The resolution was formally introduced to the General Assembly on behalf of the French Government by Tony Estanguet and IOC President Thomas Bach appealed for the adoption of this resolution.
It was agreed on by an overwhelming majority of 118 votes in favour, with 2 abstentions, and no votes against.
In his address to the UN General Assembly (read the full speech here) in New York, USA, President Bach spoke of the significance of the Olympic Truce at a time when the world is facing so much confrontation, division and polarisation:
“In this fragile world, this Olympic Truce Resolution is more relevant than ever. In these difficult times, this resolution is our opportunity to send an unequivocal signal to the world – yes, we can come together, even in times of wars and crises. Yes, we can join hands and work together for a better future.”
He went on to say that the title of the resolution – “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal” – is a clear demonstration of the shared values of the UN and the IOC:
“The Olympic Games can contribute to this noble goal. Because the Olympic Games are the only event that brings the entire world together in peaceful competition. The Olympic athletes send the powerful message that: yes, it is possible to compete fiercely against each other and at the same time live peacefully together under one roof. This is our contribution to peace.”
The IOC President emphasised that sport “can only unite the entire world in peaceful competition if we are not torn apart by political, religious, cultural or other interests and differences. Therefore, we must be politically neutral and stand against any kind of discrimination.”
The UN Member States explicitly recognise the Olympic values of universality, non-discrimination, political neutrality and the autonomy of sport, as enshrined in the Olympic Charter, as well as the IOC’s role in leading the Olympic Movement. IOC President Bach thanked them for this particular recognition.
Underlining the unifying force of the Games, the IOC President noted: “the athletes, the entire Olympic community, billions of people around the world – all of us are looking forward to the Olympic Games Paris 2024, which will truly be Olympic Games of a new era: more inclusive and more sustainable. They will be the first Olympic Games with full gender parity. The first Olympic Games inspired, planned and delivered in line with our Olympic Agenda reforms from start to finish.”
After noting the that the title of the resolution – “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal” – was the UN’s and IOC’s joint response to the challenges of our turbulent times, President Bach stated, “In this Olympic spirit, I call on you to come together, adopt the resolution, but then even more importantly: uphold this noble Olympic Truce.” He concluded with a call to all the UN Member States, when he said, “Please: Give Peace a Chance!”
In his introduction to the Session, which was delivered on his behalf by UNGA Vice President Mohan Pieris, UNGA President Dennis Francis said: “Beyond their impact on development, sports are a powerful force for peace. The Olympic Games stand as a symbol of tolerance, peace and cooperation among diverse peoples, cultures and nations.” He commended the IOC “for its commitment and contribution to gender parity. By allocating an equal number of quota places to male and female athletes, the IOC is not only leading by example, but also signalling a stride towards closing the gender pay gap.”
Closing his speech, he said: “Let us continue working together to reiterate our commitment to the values of the Olympic Truce, fostering an environment where understanding and collaboration prevail over conflict and strife. As we champion the cause of sports, let us always be reminded of its transformative power, particularly among the youth who comprise the next generation of humans to inherit this planet. I sound the clarion call: sports for peace and prosperity.”
Afterwards, UNGA President Francis welcomed the adoption of the resolution: “By uniting the world in peaceful competition, the Olympic and Paralympic Games make a powerful contribution to peace. They are organised in a spirit of peace, mutual understanding, friendship, tolerance and inadmissibility of discrimination of any kind, with the participation of all. This includes the requirement that sports events be organised under the authority of sports organisations, and the rules of sport have to apply. This principle has been recognised and confirmed again in today’s resolution: ‘Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal’. It calls on all UN Member States to cooperate with the IOC and the IPC in their efforts to use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict, during and beyond the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
The resolution calls for the Olympic Truce to be respected from seven days before the Olympic Games in July 2024 until seven days after the Paralympic Games.
The text of the resolution notably:
- Calls for “support for the International Olympic Committee in its efforts to promote peace and human understanding through sport and the Olympic ideal”
- Acknowledges “that the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024 will be a unifying event, […] welcoming all the delegations of National Olympic and Paralympic Committees athletes and the Refugee Olympic and Paralympic Teams admitted by the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee to participate in the Games”
- Notes “with appreciation that the IOC has allocated the same number of quota places to male and female athletes”
- Recalls “that, in its resolution 77/28, it supported the independence and autonomy of sport as well as the mission of the International Olympic Committee in leading the Olympic Movement […] and recognized the unifying and conciliative nature of Olympic Games, […] organized in the spirit of peace, mutual understanding, friendship, tolerance and inadmissibility of discrimination of any kind”
- Acknowledges “the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter”
- “Urges Member States to observe the Olympic Truce” in order “to ensure the safe passage, access and participation of athletes, officials and all other accredited persons taking part in the Games of the Olympiad and the Paralympic Games, and to contribute through other appropriate measures to the safe organisation of the Games”
- Welcomes “the leadership of Olympic and Paralympic athletes in promoting peace and human understanding through sport and the Olympic ideal”
- “Calls upon all Member States to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee in their efforts to use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and beyond the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games”.
Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet formally introduced the resolution to the General Assembly on behalf of the French Government (please find the full speech here). He spoke about the example that the Games and the athletes living together in the Olympic Village give in an ever more divided world:
“The Olympic Village, where thousands of athletes from all over the world live together peacefully, is the most symbolic representation of the universality of the Games. It is a place where, whatever your nationality, gender or skin colour, you can live in harmony, respecting others. The Village is humanity united in one place, in all its diversity. Like this United Nations General Assembly, of which you are the worthy representatives, the Village and its athletes help to show that a better world is possible.”
He concluded by pointing out Paris’ willingness to play its part in building a better world through sport: “Today we bring you a strong message, a universal message in favour of peace, according to the Ancient Greek tradition of the Olympic Truce.” He went on: “I stand before you humbled by the course of world events, but also with the deep conviction that, more than ever, sport has a role to play and can help us take a step towards a better world. The Olympic Games Paris 2024 are ready to play their part.”
The tradition of the Olympic Truce – “Ekecheiria” – has been to ensure a halt of all hostilities, allowing the safe passage and participation of athletes and spectators taking part in the Olympic Games. The resolution reaffirms that the Olympic values of peace, solidarity and respect are as important across the world today as they were over 3,000 years ago, when the ancient Olympic Games first took place in Greece.
The main objectives pursued by the IOC through the Olympic Truce are to mobilise young people for the promotion of the Olympic ideal, to use sport to help build bridges between communities in conflict, and, more generally, to create a window of opportunity for dialogue and reconciliation.