The tradition of an Olympic Truce began in ancient times to allow safe passage for athletes travelling to the Games. This resulted in an environment where the true spirit of the Olympic Games was on display: peaceful competition among nations, feats of individual excellence.
Today, sports and events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games break down barriers by bringing together people from all around the world and all walks of life. The participants may carry the flags of many nations, but they come together under the shared banner of equality and fair play, understanding and mutual respect.
We give meaning to these values through the Olympic Truce, the call for warring parties everywhere to lay down their weapons during the Games. These pauses in fighting save lives. They help humanitarian workers reach people in need. And they open diplomatic space to negotiate lasting solutions.
The Olympic Truce – and more broadly the Olympic ideal — carries a powerful message: that people and nations can set aside their differences and live and work together in harmony. And if they can do it for one day, or for one event, they can do it forever. This is the dream on which the United Nations is built, and the goal of our daily work.
I call on all those engaged in hostilities to respect the Truce – which has been endorsed by all 193 UN Member States. This is an uphill battle – but we must persist in proclaiming the Truce and do our utmost to win adherence to it. For these next few weeks, may the torch of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London serve as a beacon of peace around the world.
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