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IOC/Greg Martin
Olympism in Action Forum

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: The 3,000-year-old Olympic Truce showed its power this year on the Korean Peninsula

Although the Olympic Truce, first observed in 776 BC, is nearly 3,000 years old, it has gained new life and meaning this past year, as the spirit of reconciliation and mutual respect it fosters was exemplified by North and South Korea at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. 

Former Secretary-General of the United Nations and current Chair of the IOC Ethics Commission Ban Ki-moon praised the efforts of the two Koreas, along with the IOC, for working towards unity at the recent Games and noted that their strong effort continues today.  

Said Ban: “In my life I have seen times of peace and war. But never in my life have I seen such excitement and hope that soon there will be peace and security and even reunification… That was a moment we witnessed the power of sport.”

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Ban pointed out that the foundation for Korean unity was begun at two previous editions of the Games, in Athens in 2004 and Turin in 2006, when North and South Korea marched together at the Opening Ceremony. Presidents Moon Jae-In and Kim Jong-Un were able to build on that foundation in talks with the IOC on the logistics of fielding a unified team, leading to that special moment when they marched together at the Opening Ceremony. Now, it continues with talks today on a joint team at the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. 

Sport has a unique power to mobilise huge energy and inspiration—for a moment, people can forget their hatred and anger Ban Ki-moon Eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations & Chair, International Olympic Committee Ethics Commission

He ended the session by reminding the moderator, Sonali Prasad, a journalist on the Olympic Information Services, that half of the world’s population today is under the age of 24, and young people are already leading. They need to be empowered through sport. 

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