Olympic Truce [Edit]

It is often stated that in ancient Greece, a sacred Olympic Truce, or ekecheiria, existed such that all wars ceased during the Olympic Games. In addition, all persons traveling to or from the Olympic Games were guaranteed free passage to Olympia, in the city-state of Elis, even if passing through lands or city-states which were at war. It is quite certain that the Olympic Truce never existed fully in this form, and recent research by classical scholars indicates that this is an oversimplification of the facts. It has been noted that the Olympic Truce “never stopped a war, nor indeed were the Eleans so foolishly utopian as to imagine they could achieve that.” (Finley and Pleket, The Olympic Games, p. 98 [London: Chatto & Windus, 1976]). Apparently the Olympic law only forbade open warfare against the Eleans, and the truce was specifically meant only not to disrupt the Olympic Games, allowing safe passage for all athletes, artists and spectators travelling to and from Olympia.

In 1992, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made steps to re-institute this important part of Olympic lore, by creating the Olympic Truce Project. Contact was made by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch with all of the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), many non-governmental organizations, and the United Nations General Assembly, in which he proposed an Olympic Truce to take place during the period of and surrounding the Olympic Games. This was eventually approved by the United Nations General Assembly in Resolution A/Res/48/11 on 25 October 1993 at their 36th Plenary Meeting. This has been renewed by the United Nations every two years, one year before each edition of the Olympic Games, or Olympic Winter Games. The most recent Resolution on the Olympic Truce was approved in October 2013 by the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, to cover the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

In July 2000, the IOC established an International Olympic Truce Foundation (IOTF), headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland with a symbolic office in Olympia, with a Foundation Board which is chaired by the IOC President, currently Thomas Bach. It has listed its objectives as: 1) 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; and 2) to initiate conflict prevention and resolution through sport, culture and the Olympic ideals, by cooperating with all inter- and non-governmental organizations specialized in this field, by developing educational and research programs, and by launching communications campaigns to promote the Olympic Truce. The IOTF has established the International Olympic Truce Centre (IOTC), headquartered in Athens, with a liaison office in Lausanne, and a symbolic office in Olympia. It is responsible for the implementation of projects related to the worldwide promotion of a culture of peace through sport and the Olympic Ideal.