PEACE AND THE OLYMPICS
 
Excerpted from http://www.olympic.org/ioc/e/facts/reports/pdf_reports/origins_e.pdf :
 

THE ANCIENT OLYMPIC GAMES

Ancient classical history was based on the regular holding of athletic contests: the Olympic Games were held every four years at Olympia in honour of Zeus.  They were abolished in AD 393. However, the Games and their significance remained long in the memory. They were a unique institution frequently documented over the centuries that followed. It was not until the 18th and 19th centuries, however, that Olympia was excavated. The German excavations between 1875 and 1880 aroused much interest across Europe. Coubertin later wrote, "Germany had unearthed what remained of Olympia; why could France not manage to rebuild its splendour ?"


 

COUBERTIN , REVIVER OF THE ANCIENT OLYMPIC GAMES

"When reviving the Olympics, I did not look near myself, but far into the distance. I wanted to give back to today’s world, in a sustainable way, an ancient institution, the principles of which were becoming relevant again."  Coubertin (Selected Writings, II,p.387,1919).

Pierre de Coubertin, a 31-year-old French aristocrat with a keen interest in history, pedagogy and sport, created the International Olympic Committee at the Paris Congress held on 23rd June 1894. His aim was to revive the ancient Olympic Games. His enthusiasm and determination would overcome all obstacles, sweeping away scepticism and opposition, and the first Olympic Games of the modern era were held in Athens in 1896. 

Coubertin, who did not feel cut out for a career in politics or the military, the two professions befitting a man of his social status, had resolved to devote himself to the reform of education in his country. His decision had been influenced by his experiences during study visits to Great Britain and the United States. Considering sport to be an unrivalled means of education and training, he said in 1919: "All sports for all men. No doubt people will say this is a stupidly utopian idea. I do not care. I have weighed it up and examined it at great length and I know it is accurate and feasible."


 

OLYMPIC VALUES

Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education,  Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles." Olympic Charter, Fundamental Principles, 2.

It is up to each individual to decide what Olympism and the Olympic Games mean to them, but the fundamental values of Olympism have the same meaning for every human being hoping to fulfil their ambitions and to build a better world. Those values are the search for excellence, fair play, the joy of effort, respect for others and harmony between body and mind.

- The search for excellence.

- Fair play.

- The joy of effort.

- Respect for others.

- Harmony between body and mind.

 

. . . . . . . . . . . "The great thing about being an athlete is that regardless of your background and where you are from, we all speak the same language, the language of sport .The Olympics and sport in general have helped me look past the barriers and rid my mind of any preconceived ideas I may have had.  Unfortunately, I cannot compete for Australia forever, even though I would love to. What will last forever though are the friendships with my South African, Japanese, Brazilian, German, American, Canadian and Dutch friends, to name a few." Daniel Kowalski, winner of one silver and two bronze medals in swimming, Atlanta 1996. Representative of Australia at the 54th General Assembly of the United Nations on the occasion of the adoption of a resolution on the Olympic Truce, 24th November 1999.

. . . . . . . . . . . "The Olympic Games remain a shining symbol of man’s continuing quest to test the limits of human endeavour. Moreso, the Olympic spirit embraces the valuable tenets of fair play, the importance of teamwork, of diligence, commitment and hardwork. All these are part of the Olympic Ideal which seeks to create a better world by inspiring the best in mankind. In the past few years, we have seen an increase in conflicts motivated by racism, xeno-phobia and intolerance. The Games and the spirit of the Olympic Ideal, are intended to promote friendship, mutual understanding and cooperation between the nations and the peoples of the world ." Patricia Durrant, representative of Jamaica at the 54th General Assembly of the United Nations on the occasion of the adoption of a resolution on the Olympic Truce, 24th November 1999.


 

THE OLYMPIC TRUCE

"Olympism as the holder and distributor of social peace, this will be the final rung to climb."  Coubertin (Selected Writings, II,p. 396,1919).

. . . . . . . . . . . "On behalf of the Australian Government , I am pleased to advise that we support wholeheartedly this initiative of the International Olympic Committee.  Australia, as a participant in every modern Olympic Games, is proud to uphold the principles of Olympism and concurs with the aim of the Olympic Movement to contribute to friendship among people and international understanding and world peace at a time when it is so greatly needed." Paul J. Keating,Australian Prime Minister, 1993.

On 25th October 1993, following the IOC’s proposal, the 48th United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on the observance of the Truce during the 17th Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer.  During the 17th Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, the IOC President visited Sarajevo to demonstrate his solidarity towards the city which had hosted the 14th Olympic Winter Games in 1984.

On 24th November 1999, the 180 members at the 54th Session of the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution entitled "Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic Ideal."  This resolution calls on the Member States to observe the Olympic Truce during the Games of the 27th Olympiad in Sydney.

The draft resolution had been proposed by Australian Daniel Kowalski, world swimming champion, at a Session chaired by the Vice-President of the General Assembly and head of the Monaco delegation, His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco, an IOC member and Olympic athlete.

 


 

THE HOPE OF PEACE

"I call upon all nations to observe the Olympic Truce.  I am convinced that in this observance, and by working with the International Olympic Committee to promote the Olympic Ideal, we will draw the world’s attention to what humanity can achieve in the name of international understanding."  Kofi A. Annan,United Nations Secretary General, February 1998.


 
TIMELINE:
 

The Ancient Olympic Games were held between 776 BC and AD 393.

They lasted 12 centuries.

The German excavations between 1875 and 1880 unearth the ancient city of Olympia

1886: the first Olympic Games of the modern era were held in Athens. 

1993: the resolution on the observance of the Olympic Truce, the first in modern history, on the occasion of the 17th Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, was unanimously adopted on 25th October 1993 by the 48th Session of the UN General Assembly.

1994: International Year of Sport and the Olympic Ideal.

The IOC was invited to the 50th UN General Assembly in 1996.

The IOC invested US$ 15,153,000 in the reconstruction of the Zetra ice rink in Sarajevo, destroyed during the war in 1992.The rebuilding project was completed on 30th March 1999.

Observance of the Olympic Truce during the Games of the 27th Olympiad in Sydney was adopted unanimously on 24th November 1999 by the 54th Session of the UN General Assembly.

The results of a 1995 survey carried out in six countries (Australia, Germany, India, Japan, Great Britain and the United States) show that 60% of those questioned identified the Olympic rings as being a symbol of a force for world peace. (SRI,Sponsorship Research International.)

In another survey in 1999 carried out in seven countries (Australia,Brazil, People’s Republic of China,France, Russian Federation, Senegal and the United States), 85% of those questioned thought the Olympic Games generated peace and harmony. (SRI,Sponsorship Research International.)

 


 

THE OLYMPIC TRUCE IN ANCIENT TIMES

Tradition suggests that a Greek of noble birth could not die before attending the Olympic Games. The whole Greek world talked about the Olympic Games and what happened there. Artists went to the Games to become better known. Victorious athletes were genuine heroes.  Travelling to Olympia involved a long journey across warring territories. Therefore, two months before the Games began, the Hellanodikai, who organized the Games, declared a holy truce between Greek cities. At that moment, all wars were supposed to cease. The truce was also designed to protect the athletes during their journey home, which could sometimes last several months. Evidence that the truce was observed is found in the fact that Olympia was the only Greek city never to build walls to defend itself. During the truce, no prisoners were executed.  

The ancient truce was sacred because it was necessary for the free movement of all participants .

The literal meaning of the Greek word for truce, ékécheiria, is "laying down of arms".

The Olympic Games were held for 1,168 years during ancient times.


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