6 November 2013, 21:25

Who violates Olympic Truce?

Who violates Olympic Truce?

November 6, the UN General Assembly is to consider the Russian draft resolution on the Olympic Truce. Traditionally, the document is prepared by the country hosting the Olympics. The Olympic Truce was first announced in the 8th century BC, and in ancient times it was strictly observed: the most severe punishment was in store for its violators. In the newest history, the tradition was repeatedly violated. Why doesn’t the Olympic Truce function nowadays?

The resolution on the Olympic Truce is really more of a tribute to the tradition. The document is usually adopted automatically, after a brief formal discussion, because its text is almost unchanged over the years. However, this year, the discussion was not so smooth. As it was expected, the Federal law banning gay propaganda among minors became a stumbling block. The document stated that “people of different age, gender, physical abilities, religion, race and social status” can participate in the Olympic Games. But it seemed not enough for some participants of the discussion, and they demanded to include the words “gays” and “transgenders” in this list. Let’s note that in the resolutions of the past years - including the one adopted before the London Olympics – there was not a word about adherents of the nonconventional orientation.

And yet, after several weeks of negotiations, a compromise was found: now, the draft document calls for “social inclusion not allowing discrimination of any type”. Russia was satisfied with this version. Like most UN resolutions, the document is of a recommendatory nature, so, there is no question of its literal execution, President of the Federation of Sport Journalists of Russia Nikolai Dolgopolov notes.

“Yes, we should at all costs aim at the long-awaited truce during the days of the Olympic Games. But if some military conflicts occur, this should not affect the Olympic Games. The country should host the Games at the highest level it is capable of”.

It is noteworthy that in the homeland of the Olympics, in Ancient Greece, full cessation of hostilities during the Games was not required. Ekécheiria – as the Olympic Truce was called - only required ensuring an unhindered passage of athletes to the place of the Games. However, having revived the ancient tradition in 1993, participants of the modern Olympic movement entered this very point: cessation of all wars and conflicts a week before the start of the Olympics, during the Games and a week after.

The Olympics were hindered by both global and regional conflicts. The Summer Games of 1916 did not take place due to the First World War. The years of 1940 and 1944 were not the proper time for sport, too: states were sorting out their relations not at stadiums, but in the trenches of the World War II. The Olympic Games of 1972 were marred by the Munich tragedy - terrorists took Israeli athletes hostage. In 2008, a certain Saakashvili timed Georgia's attack on South Ossetia to the day of the opening of the Beijing Olympics. The war in Syria did not stop during the London Olympic Games in 2012, and it is unlikely that a truce will come in the winter of 2014. The Olympic Truce is violated so often, because even this largest sporting event has become politicized, Vice-President of the Center for Strategic Communications Dmitry Abzalov says.

“A serious factor of violating this prohibition is the position of some countries, which do not condemn aggression unambiguously. For example, as regards the situation with Georgia, positions of countries diverge, thus leaving a precedent for consecutive violations. Secondly, double standards prevail in the sports movement to some extent.

Previously, the Olympics were considered a social and sports event, but of late, politics are introduced into it more and more often. It started with the last century’s Russian-American relations, when the Olympics became a hostage of political decisions. This politicization of sport became a very serious problem in the last few years”.

Nevertheless, the UN and the International Olympic Committee do not lose hope that the motto “Oh, Sport - You Are Peace!” has not lost its value. The IOC President will speak at the 68th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. During the Sport for Peace and Development meeting, Thomas Bach will address the participants with a request to conclude the Olympic Truce during the 2014 Games - from February 7 to 23. In addition, the head of the IOC will outline his vision of the intercommunication between sports and politics, and tell about the absurdity of the boycott of the Olympic Games.

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