The United Nations and the IOC launch a series of stamps honouring the role of sport for peace
On the occasion of the solemn appeal by the United Nations to respect the Olympic Truce for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro on 25 July, the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA), in partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), launched a series of six stamps depicting sports events and a dove of peace, to commemorate the shared values of the two organisations, in particular the concept of sport at the service of peace.
As is now traditional, and as the UN General Assembly recalled in resolution A/RES/70/4 in October 2015, an appeal to respect the Olympic Truce worldwide is launched seven days before the start of the Olympic Games. The Truce ends seven days after the Paralympic Games, which are held after the Olympic Games.
On this occasion, the UNPA, in partnership with the IOC and the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP), issued a series of brightly coloured stamps depicting the Olympic rings and the slogan in three languages: “Sport for peace”, “Le sport pour la paix” and “Sport für den Frieden”.
Rowing, weightlifting, gymnastics, fencing, athletics and a dove of peace feature on this series of six stamps, which can be obtained via the official unstamps.org website or from the UNPA shops in New York, Vienna or Geneva. The issue took place exactly a week before the start of the Olympic Truce, to highlight and promote sport’s contribution to peace around the world. They were designed by American artist Nick Ilusasda.
One of the main aims of the Olympic Games is to promote peace, respect, mutual understanding and goodwill. All over the world, the Olympic Movement inspires all those seeking to help build a peaceful future through the values of sports education. These values are fully shared by the United Nations, which in 1993 adopted a resolution whereby, in each Olympic year, the Truce is respected by all its Member States.
The Olympic Truce, a tradition dating back to 9 BC
The tradition of the Olympic Truce, or “Ekecheiria”, was established in Ancient Greece in the ninth century BC by the signature of a treaty by three kings. During the period of the Truce, athletes, artists and their families, as well as simple pilgrims, could travel in safety to take part in or attend the Olympic Games, and return to their respective countries afterwards. So as the time of the Olympic Games approached, the sacred Truce was proclaimed and announced by the citizens of Elis, who spread this message all over the Greek world.
Taking into account the global context of sport and the Olympic Games, the IOC decided to revive the tradition of the Olympic Truce, with a view to preserving, as much as possible, the interests of the athletes and sport in general, and to encourage the search for peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the conflicts afflicting the world.
Through this global and symbolic concept, the IOC aims to mobilise young people to promote the Olympic ideals, and use sport to establish contacts between communities in conflict; provide humanitarian assistance for war-torn countries; and create opportunities for dialogue and reconciliation.
The IOC’s initiatives in support of the Olympic Truce go beyond the period of the Olympic Games, and have led it to develop, through the Organising Committees for the Olympic Games, the National Olympic Committees and other partners like the UN, a series of activities linked to sport in the service of peace.
In a video message, the President of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Mogens Lykketoft, thanked the UNPA, the IOC and the UNOSDP for their initiative in issuing this series of stamps. He extended the call to respect the Olympic Truce “to people outside the United Nations as well”. He then recalled that “world leaders recognise that sport can foster peace and development.”
“Sport can be an important enabler for peace and development, helping to support health, well-being and the empowerment of women and young people. The Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games are fast approaching. They will bring together athletes from all parts of the world in the greatest of international sports events. For the first time ever, a team of refugees will participate under the Olympic flag in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, acting as a powerful symbol of inclusion and our shared humanity”, he explained.
The formal announcement of the Olympic Truce was relayed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who concluded his strong message to the world by saying: “Let us all do more to uphold the ideals of equality and mutual respect. Let us build prosperity and dignity for all. Peace begins with us.”