In an ideal world, hostilities should stop during the Olympics. But experience shows that, on the contrary, the Olympics are often a dangerous time.
The Olympic Truce is a tradition originating from ancient Greece and dating back to 776 BC. Fighting ceased for seven days before, until seven days after the games, allowing athletes and spectators to travel to ancient Olympia, participate, and return to their homelands safely.
Later, the Olympic Truce became symbolised by the white dove.
Since the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, the international sports competition has only been cancelled three times: once during World War I (1916) and twice during World War II (1940, 1944).
Since 1993, the United Nations General Assembly has adopted the Olympic Truce resolution two years before every games, unanimously calling for “all hostilities to cease during the games, thereby mobilising the youth of the world in the cause of peace.”
Despite the beauty of historical symbols, the Olympic Truce has hardly been respected.
Those who fear a Russian invasion of Ukraine may remember that during the Summer Olympics in 2008 (in Beijing again) Russia found an excuse to invade Georgia (which still leaves the country depleted of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, or 20% of its territory).
In 1968 in Mexico, the Olympic Games took place 10 days after the Mexican army opened fire on youth demonstrators during a protest against police brutality, causing between 200 and 300 deaths, in a tragic incident known as the Tlatelolco Massacre.
During the 1972 Munich Olympics, an armed commando of Palestinian terrorists attacked the Israeli compound, killing 11 Israeli athletes.
From Hitler’s Germany in 1936, unfortunately, Olympic ethics have been dubious, and the games have often served to promote the grandeur of the host country – or its megalomania.
The Sochi Winter Olympics took place in February 2014, not far from Crimea, annexed by Russia in February and March that year. The combination of the Olympics and the Crimea annexation reportedly boosted Putin’s popularity to an all-time high.
In the case of the 2022 Winter Olympics, it is incredible how it was decided to bring the games to Beijing, a place almost completely lacking perhaps the main ingredient needed for Winter Olympics – snow. But Beijing now takes pride in being the first city in the world to have hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
If China was serious about climate, it should have organised the Olympics in snow-covered and mountainous Xinjiang. However, Xinjiang, reportedly a region where one million Uighurs are detained in so-called “educational centres”, is somewhat off limits.
Using sports as bait for propaganda is a disgrace but is a story has been repeating itself for many years under the watch of the International Olympic Committee. They are supposed to be the guardians of the Olympics ethics, but the question is, who guards the guardians?
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Look out for…
- Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson holds meeting with Senator Bill Cassidy and Members of US Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources.
- Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli delivers keynote speech and attends Social and Democrats Africa Week Conference in Brussels, Belgium.
- Commission Vice-President and High Representative Josep Borrell participates via videoconference in Joint conference of foreign and health ministers.
Views are the author’s.
[Edited by Alice Taylor/Zoran Radosavljevic]