The idea of the Olympic Truce is based upon the deep belief that athletics and Olympic ideals can contribute to the creation of a peaceful and better world. The basic aim of this endeavor is to facilitate initiatives that promote dialog, reconciliation, mutual understanding, solidarity and peace.
The Olympic Truce is a performance of all people and as such it aims at emphasizing the significance of respecting peaceful co-existence. The Olympic Games were resuscitated in 1896 and Greece played an important role in the revival of its ancient tradition; a tradition that has been offered to humanity and has been exploited by humanity. This is an organized event joined by the world as a whole, a cultural event in which all states assume a role, comprising more participating members than the United Nations.
Greece decided that it should offer something unique, something above and beyond this institution, aside from the Olympic Games and the Cultural Olympics; that is the reason for the country’s pursuance and achievement in reviving the Olympic Truce. The ancient Greek God Apollo had demanded from ancient Greeks to conduct the best games possible in order to bring an end to the war. So it was: an Olympic Truce was declared at each Game.
According to the myth, the very concept of the Olympic Games stemmed from the notion of world peace. In its offer for the Olympic Games in Athens 2004, Greece promised to revive one more the ancient Greek tradition: the Olympic Truce. As a result of the collaboration between Greece and the International Olympic Academy, this promise has been fulfilled. Greece is particularly proud to have contributed a little bit to the establishment of world peace.
Mr. Samaranch, Honorary President of the IOA, was the inspirer of the initiative to revive an old tradition of the Olympic Games: the tradition to conclude wars throughout the period of the Games. This tradition did not simply encompass a portion of the Games; it constituted their primary objective as well. In order to revive this message of peace, Greece has been in close collaboration with President Samaranch for the development of the International Foundation and the International Center for the Olympic Truce, which shall maintain Head Offices in Lausanne and Athens, respectively.
The Olympic Truce is not a panacea to all kinds of problems. However, it is our belief that it can make an extensive contribution largely based upon the establishment of peace via the Olympic Movement. The Greek vision, George A. Papandreou’s vision, is peace; Truce is the mission. Athletic events have become a very important social phenomenon, an innovative tool used to bring people together, and one, which favors approximation and promotes a constructive dialog in addition to creating spiritual reconciliation intent on establishing peace.
Since 1992 the International Olympic Academy decided to revive the Ancient Greek idea of the Olympic Truce. The objective had been to protect the interests of both athletes and athletics as much as possible and also to contribute to the search for diplomatic and peaceful solutions to various conflicts worldwide.
The idea gained support from the UN member states whilst primary evidence of this support includes the conclusions and events of the United Nations Millennium Summit in New York. Nation leaders of all countries unanimously approved the decision in which the Olympic Truce shall comprise a section of the Declaration of the Millennium Summit. Thus, there is widespread worldwide support from all Governments in regards to this idea. Such support is indicative of the new dynamics surrounding the concept. The significance of the Olympic Movement is being embodied within the very ideals of building and establishing peace.
In 1998, George A. Papandreou approached IOA and requested their assistance in this plan as well as their support in creating a concrete infrastructure to promote the Olympic Truce idea. This took place following Athens’ election in Nagano, in which Athens was chosen to organize the Olympic Games in 2004. The IOA then decided to create the International Foundation for the Olympic Truce that will be responsible for policy making and for coordinating all activities in this field as well as in establishing the International Center for the Olympic Truce in Athens, with administrating Head Offices in Lausanne and the city of Ancient Olympia as its symbolic seat.
The Olympic Games and their tradition are a Greek idea that has excelled to an international level. Greece managed to revive the Olympic Games over a century ago, at the end of the 19th century; now it correspondingly considers it its duty and obligation to also revive this portion of the Games.
The significance of the effort concealed behind the Olympic Truce is the fact that it combines the strength of an Olympic Movement, the credibility of the athletic movement and the enthusiasm of the younger generation. It should be clarified that it is not for the younger generation alone, but for anyone and everyone who supports and is willing to work for peace under the auspice of the Olympic Ideal. The objective is to combine the spirit and the dynamics of these movements and to seek contributions to resolve existing worldwide conflicts, especially those in our region: the Balkans, Middle East and Cyprus.
The Olympic Games essentially began as a way to establish peace between the cities of Ancient Greece that were continuously in conflict, especially within the region of Iliad. Thus, the objective of the Games was to achieve the Truce, to utilize the Games as a means in which Greeks could find resilience by possibly exchanging ideas and diplomatic views. History illustrates specific cases such as war camps forming agreements with the opposition over the course of the Olympic Games. This of course occurred in a particular Greek way that is, achieving peace through culture and athletics.
This message is very significant in our days. It is of outmost importance that these Games be linked to something special, something that will pass this exact message to society worldwide that we are forming: the very principles, values, and essence one seeks within the realm of globalization. George A. Papandreou’s mission maintains the objective in which to convert the Truce into a systematic and practical effort with practical cumulative results, thereby calling into being a broader spirit of peace in the world.
The Olympic Flame for the Games in 2004 will travel to all continents of the world. It could also travel to belligerent regions of the world, were, of course, the Truce to be respected. In practice, the Truce’s goal in addition to that of the Olympic Flame is that both they become a motive in the belligerent regions: the Flame can cross these regions in peace, passing along the message of peace and simultaneously offering the people some time for contemplation, reconciliation and possibly, for negotiations. This effort will particularly focus on the younger generations all over the world, since children, in many places, usually account for either the victims in times of war or the actual warriors themselves.
One of the particular goals of George A. Papandreou will be to approach and communicate with these children, these young people, so that they have the opportunity to contemplate their actions. At the same time, the International Organizations shall be assisted in their mission in that they will be more efficient in their effort to bring peace forth in these regions.
This effort must be seen as a reinvention and a revival of the entire concept behind the Olympic Games, whilst simultaneously comprising a section of them. The Truce is an indispensable constituent of the Olympic Tradition. By bringing this tradition into the limelight, we are endowing upon it new dynamics, greater strength, and new perspective within the Olympic Games.
We are now moving at the rate of an international community thereby creating a global society in which usually, a hollowness of values emerges sometimes and a quest that unites us. At the same time intense phenomena exists in the world: severe poverty, social inequality and conflicts in many areas. In an effort to create a cultural embodiment, we ask ourselves what would be the greatest worldwide event would bring people closer and we find that the answer is the Olympic Games. This is a global festival taking place within a global village, thus it is correct to promote the utmost positive human values by emphasizing the idea of the Olympic Truce.
The principal ideas are defended through Foreign policy. If we are not capable of having great ideas, we shall lose our sense of humanity and that of mortality. Traditional diplomacy should be complemented with cultural diplomacy as well as with the diplomacy of the citizens. Sports and the Olympic Games could become excellent means for this new form of diplomacy.
The idea of the Olympic Truce is a radical one; however, it has been proven to provide results. During the Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, President Samaranch launched an appeal for ceasefire in Bosnia and the belligerent parties respected this appeal. During the Winter Games in Nagano, President Samaranch, the Japanese Government and George A. Papandreou, as the Greek Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs called upon all those who decided to bomb Iraq to respect the Olympic Truce; this afforded the UN Secretary General with the opportunity to travel to Baghdad in order to negotiate over a relevant peace agreement with the Iraqi Government. Finally, at President Samaranch’ s request, North and South Korea marched under the same flag during the initiation ceremony at the Olympic Games in Sydney, thereby signifying an exceptional moment in history. These are some of the examples of what the institution can achieve. George A. Papandreou’s plan in conjunction with the UN is to make the Olympic Truce a solid peace force around the world.
UN support is absolutely mandatory so that the International Foundation for the Olympic Truce may intervene in particular regions where conflicts have enraged, as well as for the purpose of developing educational and communicative programs regarding the Olympic Truce idea. There have been and there will be specific events taking place along these lines during the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City and in Athens.
It is worth noting that the European Union has supported the idea of the Olympic Truce to the utmost degree during the Nice Summit, while in their mutual declaration, Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Christodoulos make reference, amongst other things, to their support of the idea of the Olympic Truce.