UN General Assembly urges 'Olympic Truce' for Paris Games
November 22, 2023 09:32 AM
The UN General Assembly called Tuesday for the observance of a traditional "Olympic Truce" during the next year's Paris summer games, as Russia again condemned what it called "political interference" in sport.
The resolution, adopted with 118 votes in favor to none against, "urges Member States to observe the Olympic Truce individually and collectively" from seven days before the start of the games next summer until seven days after the Paralympic Games -- also held in Paris -- have concluded.
Russia and Syria abstained from the vote.
The resolution, prepared by Olympic host nation France, also calls for cooperation "to collectively implement the values of the Olympic Truce around the world."
"I cannot remember a time when the world was facing so much confrontation, division and polarization," Thomas Bach, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, said in an address to the General Assembly in New York.
"In this fragile world, this Olympic Truce resolution is more relevant than ever... 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."
Tony Estanguet, head of the Paris games organizing committee, added: "The Games are an extremely inspiring example, because they show what we have in common rather than what divides us."
Inspired by the ancient Greek tradition of "ekecheiria," which required the cessation of all hostilities during the ancient Olympic Games, the "truce" was reintroduced by the UN in 1993, following an IOC push.
Olympic Truce resolutions had been adopted by consensus every two years before the Winter and Summer Games, but Russia called for a vote this year, saying the text should have included references to "equal depoliticized access to sport" competitions.
The IOC considers Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 to be a violation of the Olympic Truce passed ahead of the Beijing winter Olympics.
It has recommended that international federations not hold events on Russian soil and the banning of Russian symbols, such as anthems and flags, from competitions.
The IOC has not yet decided on whether Russian athletes will be able to participate at the Paris Games.
Russia on Tuesday condemned what it called "a dangerous trend of political interference in sport."
"The height of hypocrisy and cynicism, the likes of which we've not seen in recent history has been the illegal barring of Russian athletes from international sporting competitions, as well as attempts to deprive Russia of its right to host them in our country," said Russian deputy UN ambassador Maria Zabolotskaya.
Bach pushed back in remarks to media after the vote, saying the resolution "is by no means about discrimination of any athletes," but rather "abiding by the rules of the Olympic Charter."
He also said that Russia's plan to host a "Friendship Games" next year would in fact "lead to the political fragmentation of international sport."