International Olympic Truce
Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 31st July, 2012
London’s 2012’s House of Hellenes (in normal life that bastion of the Conservative Party, the Carlton Club) this lunchtime hosted a panel on the state of the Olympic Truce. For those whose ancient history is a bit rusty or non-existent, this was the truce ordained in Ancient Greece at the time of the original Games at Olympia during which the various city states pledged not to fight each other. There were (probably not deliberate) echos of this in 1914 when fighting in the Great War halted for a brief while and the German and Allied troops facing off against each other in bloody trench warfare in Flanders played a game of football on Christmas Day instead. The run-up to the London2012 Olympics was unusual, in that all 193 member states of the United Nations not only signed but co-sponsored a UN resolution endorsing the Olympic truce. Alas this has not stopped the carnage and brutality in Syria (not to mention Afghanistan and elsewhere). The Syrian Olympic committee was barred from coming to London but there are 10 Syrian athletes here. I asked the distinguished panel how those athletes are interacting with their colleagues in the Olympic Village and how the Olympic Truce movement (if one can call it such) has reacted or should react. The more official members of the panel were unsurprisingly unwilling to say much on that, but Lord (Michael) Bates — who walked from Olympia to London over 10 months to highlight the message of the truce — was more forthcoming. He pointed out that the Syrian athletes, in common with all the others, had signed the Olympic truce and that they should convey that message back to their countrymen. It is interesting that the wall in the Olympic Village, on which people can sign up to express their support, is already completely full. So it probably needs extending! In the meantime, I, along with many others at today’s event, signed my support. Sport is a way of bringing peace between nations and communities and that message should not be lost when the Games themselves are over.