The tradition of the Olympic Truce dates back to the 9th century BC, in Ancient Greece. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to revive this ancient concept in order to protect the interests of the athletes and sport in general.
The tradition of the "Truce" or "Ekecheiria" was established in ancient Greece in the 9th century BC by the signature of a treaty between three kings. During the Truce period, the athletes, artists and their families, as well as ordinary pilgrims, could travel in total safety to participate in or attend the Olympic Games and return afterwards to their respective countries. As the opening of the Games approached, the sacred truce was proclaimed and announced by citizens of Elis who travelled throughout Greece to pass on the message.
Its relevance today
Taking into account the global context in which sport and the Olympic Games exist, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to revive the ancient concept of the Olympic Truce with the view to protecting, as far as possible, the interests of the athletes and sport in general, and to encourage searching for peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the conflicts around the world.Through this global and symbolic concept, the IOC aims to :
- mobilise youth for the promotion of the Olympic ideals;
- use sport to establish contacts between communities in conflict; and
- offer humanitarian support in countries at war ; and more generally :
- to create a window of opportunities for dialogue and reconciliation.
The IOC undertakings for the Olympic Truce extend beyond the period of the Olympic Games and have led to the implementation of a series of "sport for peace" activities through its National Olympic Committees.
"Sport alone cannot enforce or maintain peace. But it has a vital role to play in building a better and more peaceful world."
Dr Jacques Rogge, IOC President, October 2007
The Olympic Truce is symbolised by the dove of peace with the traditional Olympic flame in the background. In a world that is plagued by wars and animosity, the peace-dove symbol represents one of the IOC's ideals to build a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal. The Olympic flame has brought warm friendship to all the people of the world through sharing and global togetherness. In the symbol, the flame is made up of colourful effervescent elements - reminiscent of festivities experienced in the celebration of the human spirit. These elements represent people of all races coming together for the observance of the Truce.
International Olympic Truce Foundation
In the framework of promoting peace through sport and the Olympic ideal, the IOC established an International Olympic Truce Foundation (IOTF) in July 2000.
ObjectivesAs a non-governmental organisation belonging to the Olympic Movement, the IOTF defines its actions around the following objectives :
- To promote the Olympic ideals to serve peace, friendship and understanding in the world, and in particular, to promote the ancient Greek tradition of the Olympic Truce;
- To initiate conflict prevention and resolution through sport, culture and the Olympic ideals, by cooperating with all inter and non-governmental organisations specialised in this field, by developing educational and research programmes, and by launching communications campaigns to promote the Olympic Truce.
International Olympic Truce Center
To meet these objectives, the IOTF established an International Olympic Truce Centre (IOTC), which is responsible for the implementation of projects related to the global promotion of a culture of peace through sport and the Olympic ideal, in accordance with the principles and policies established by the Foundation. The Centre's main headquarters are located in Athens, Greece, with a liaison office in Lausanne, Switzerland, and a symbolic office in Olympia, Greece.
The IOTF is administered by a Board composed of personalities from the world of sports and politics, and meets once a year.
United Nations supportIOC
The first initiatives were launched by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1992. In order for the project to have a greater impact, the IOC relayed it to the United Nations (UN). Since 1993, the UN General Assembly has repeatedly expressed its support for the IOC by unanimously adopting, every two years, one year before each edition of the Olympic Games, a resolution entitled "Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal".
Through this symbolic resolution, the UN invites its member States to observe the Olympic Truce individually or collectively, and to seek, in conformity with the goals and principles of the United Nations Charter, the peaceful settling of all international conflicts through peaceful and diplomatic means, and recognising the importance of the IOC initiatives for human well-being and international understanding.
"Sports by its nature may be competitive, but sports can be a very powerful tool and vehicle to promote dialogue and peace and reconciliation. Unfortunately we are experiencing problems in many parts of the world, but through sports we can promote peace and dialogue and reconciliation. This is exactly what the United Nations and the IOC share - the same goals and objectives."
Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General
1992: the IOC launched an Appeal for the observance of the Olympic Truce and negotiated with the United Nations to facilitate athletes of the former Republic of Yugoslavia to participate in the Games of the XXIII Olympiad in Barcelona.
1993: the first resolution on the observance of the Olympic Truce was adopted by the 48th session of the UN General Assembly.
1994: the year was proclaimed the International Year of Sport and the Olympic Ideal by the UN. The appeal for the observance of the Olympic Truce facilitated the participation of athletes from the former Republic of Yugoslavia in the Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer.
1995: The IOC president attended the UN General Assembly for the first time in history.
1998: The Olympic Truce was taken into consideration by member States during the Olympic Winter Games in Nagano and, it has been argued, contribued, to a certain extent, to setting up a mediation mission by the UN Secretary General, which led to the signature of a memorandum of understanding between the UN and the Iraqi government.
1999: A record number of 180 member States were co-sponsors of the resolution on the Olympic Truce.
2000: The United Nations Millennium Summit, held in New York with the participation of more than 150 heads of state and government, adopted a Millennium Declaration that included a paragraph on the observance of the Olympic Truce. During the Opening Ceremony of the Games of the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney, the South and North Korean delegations paraded in the stadium together under the flag of the Korean peninsula.
2001: The 56th UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the Olympic Truce in preparation for the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
2003: The 58th UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the Olympic Truce in preparation for the Olympic Games in Athens.
2004: More than 300 world wide personalities have signed the Truce appeal. Many of them also signed the Truce Wall created by the Greek Government during the 2004 Athens Games.
2005: The 60th UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the Olympic Truce in preparation for the Olympic Winter Games in Turin.
Message calling for observance of the Olympic Truce (UN)
2006: During the Opening of the Olympic Winter Games in Turin, IOC President Jacques Rogge launched a strong appeal for peace, backed up by an impressive dove composed of human bodies and a peace song sung on stage by Yoko Ono and Peter Gabriel.
2007: The 62nd UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the Olympic Truce in preparation for the Olympic Games in Beijing.
2008: During the opening ceremony at the Olympic Games in Beijing, the international community, in particular the United Nations, expressed many positive comments on the importance of the Games and the value of sport altogether to promote development and peace world-wide.
Read the United Nations Secretary General’s message
The Peace and Friendship Wall was inaugurated on 1st August in the Beijing Olympic Village, in presence of the IOC and BOCOG Presidents and numerous invitees from the Olympic Movement. Hundreds of athletes, officials and visitors added their signature and showed their support to the Olympic Truce ideal throughout the Games.
Read the resolution for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games
Read the resolution for the London 2012 Olympic Games