UN calls for truce around next year's Tokyo summer Olympics

President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach said that there is no better time to celebrate the shared values of both organisations to promote peace among all countries and people of the world. PHOTO: AP

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The UN General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution on Monday (Dec 9) urging all nations to observe a truce during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan, saying sports can play a role in promoting peace and tolerance and preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism.

Diplomats burst into applause as the assembly president announced the adoption of the resolution by the 193-member world body.

The resolution recalls the ancient Greek tradition of "ekecheiria", which called for a cessation of hostilities to encourage a peaceful environment, ensure safe passage and participation of athletes in the ancient Olympics.

The General Assembly revived the tradition in 1993 and has adopted resolutions before all Olympics since then calling for a cessation of hostilities for seven days before and after the games. But member states involved in conflicts have often ignored the call for a truce.

Mr Yoshiro Mori, head of the Tokyo organising committee for the 2020 games, introduced the resolution calling on UN members states to observe the truce around next year's Summer Olympics, being held July 24-Aug 9, and the Paralympics, following on Aug 25-Sept 6.

The resolution also urges nations to help "use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and beyond" the games.

Mr Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, told the General Assembly that as the United Nations approaches its 75th anniversary next year, an Olympic year, there is no better time to celebrate the shared values of both organisations to promote peace among all countries and people of the world.

But he warned that "in sport, we can see an increasing erosion of the respect for the global rule of law".

Mr Bach said the IOC's political neutrality "is undermined whenever organisations or individuals attempt to use the Olympic Games as a stage for their own agendas - as legitimate as they might be".

The Olympics "are a sports celebration of our shared humanity ... and must never be a platform to advance political or any other potentially divisive ends," he said.

Looking ahead, Mr Bach announced that "we will achieve gender balance at the Olympic Games for the first time in Tokyo, with the highest-ever number of female athletes in history at about 49 per cent".

He said Tokyo 2020 also aims "for carbon-neutral games", saying medals will be made from recycled electronics and renewable energy and zero-emission vehicles will be used.

The resolution notes that the Tokyo event will be the second of three Olympics in Asia, following the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and ahead of the 2022 winter games in Beijing.

It also notes that the Summer Olympics will give Japan the opportunity to express gratitude to countries and people around the world for their "solidarity and support" after the 2011 earthquake and "to deliver a powerful message to the world on how it has been recovering".

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