2016: an Olympic Truce year
As we’ve just entered 2016, the international sports movement has already set its eyes on Rio for this summer’s Olympic Games. Six months before, it’s in the Norwegian town of Lillehammer that the Olympic flame will burn as the city hosts the second edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games. This double Olympic year is a great reason to celebrate sport and the values it represents. And it offers two opportunities to deliver a message of peace and to call for an Olympic Truce.
Since ancient Greek times, the spirit of the Games has been associated with an « Olympic Truce ». Long left aside, the International Olympic Committee decided to revive the concept at the beginning of the 90s. It allowed the participation of athletes from the ex Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the 1992 Barcelona Games. And since 1993, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopts every two years a symbolic resolution inviting its member states to respect, individually and collectively, this Truce.
The process has already begun for the Rio Olympic Games. On October 26 2015, the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution for observance of the Olympic Truce for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Brazil. What will be the resolution’s impact ? Will the IOC and the UN’s wishes be respected on the ground ?
As security has become the biggest challenge for major international sports events organizers, it’s tempting to measure the success of Games through a security perspective. This would be forgetting that the Olympic spirit goes way further than two weeks without a tragedy. Next August, in Rio, Brazilians will be asked to organize a perfectly safe event. And the rest of the world to respect the Olympic Truce by putting down weapons and calling for peace.
In theory, this pause in worldwide conflicts does not cover the Youth Olympic Games. The event is too recent to claim this type of recognition. The first summer edition was organized in Singapore in 2010 while Innsbruck hosted the original winter Youth Games in 2012. But an Olympic Truce next February during the Lillehammer Winter Youth Olympic Games would send a very strong message to the world’s youth. It could contribute to give future generations a chance for a safer and less violent world.
Last September, the President of the Organizing Committee of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic (POCOG) and Paralympic Games, the South-Korean Yang-ho Cho, travelled to Lausanne for an Executive Board Meeting of the International Olympic Truce Foundation (IOTF). Three years before the Games, he announced that the POCOG had completed two rounds of Olympic Truce Eduction, having trained 515 teachers and 70 000 students in Korea. He also explained that the Organizing Committee developed an Olympic Truce Program, in particular by cooperating with their Japanese and Chinese counterparts. An initiative rarely seen this early before the Olympic Games.