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BEIJING – “Observe your commitment to this Olympic truce”, implored the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, to the international community at the opening ceremony from Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. “Give peace a chance.”

Whether it echoes John Lennon or not, it’s a plea that has been made over and over again with little success – a seemingly futile exercise. As the Games unfold against a backdrop of heightened tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine, even Bach himself had evidently distanced the IOC from the Olympic truce as the opening ceremony approached.

“We can only appeal: ‘Please respect your own commitment,'” he said at a February 3 press conference where he called the UN resolution just “a highly symbolic act “. “We can’t go any further and say, ‘Please don’t touch the Games.'”

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Every two years, the host country of the next Olympics presents a UN resolution that other member states can co-sponsor. The truce aims to ensure the safe passage of athletes during the Games and, in the long term, to promote the idea of ​​working for peace in the world.

A UN resolution confirming the Olympic truce has been passed 15 times. The continuous renewal of each Olympic Games is based on the idealism that underlies the modern Games and perhaps international law in general: it is ambitious.

What is the Olympic Truce? And what role should it play in the shaky scene of international affairs?

HOW LONG IS THE BREAK?

Almost two months. It begins seven days before the start of each Olympic Games and ends seven days after the end of the Paralympic Games. The Beijing Olympics started on February 4 and the Paralympic Games end on March 13.

WHEN DID THE TRUCE BEGIN?

The modern Olympic Truce was first established in 1993, for the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994. But its roots are ancient and based on the concept of “ekecheiria”, which dates back to the 9th century BC. BC, when the Greek city-states were constantly at war with each other (although they didn’t necessarily do a good job adhering to the pact, either).

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Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the modern Olympics in 1896 with the ideal of building a harmonious future, but contemporary formalization would not come until the post-Cold War era, when athletes from Yugoslavia in way of dissolution were to participate. In the meantime, some Olympics have been canceled entirely.

WHAT ABOUT ALL THE FIGHTS SINCE 1993?

There has been some sort of burning conflict going on at every modern Olympics. Despite this, no country would bring itself to intentionally break the truce, says J. Simon Rofe, reader in diplomatic studies at SOAS from the University of London and expert in sports diplomacy.

Basically, it comes down to semantics and mental gymnastics. Instead of “openly flouting the Olympic truce, they can say it doesn’t apply. They can say, ‘That’s not why,’” says Rofe. “But no one just walked away: ‘Not today, thank you.'”

WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A BREAK OF THE TRUCE?

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There really isn’t. At most, an abuser takes a hit in the court of public opinion, but that usually doesn’t matter.

“If we find ourselves in the midst of tensions, conflicts and clashes between political powers, we put the Games in danger”, Bach clearly told reporters at a press conference in Beijing.

NO CONSEQUENCE? SO WHAT IS IT FOR?

While the truce itself won’t establish a lasting peace, Charlotte Ku, an international law expert and professor at Texas A&M University School of Law, notes that the Olympics are a prime venue for informal talks as leaders of state and government (of countries not boycotting nations, that is) meet in Beijing: “So to that extent there might be an opportunity to resolve things or at least find a framework for further conversation”.

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Plus, adds Rofe, there’s nothing wrong with having ambition.

“I think the Olympic Truce serves a valuable purpose in providing a model for behavior in international affairs and an opportunity for what sport can achieve,” he said.

HAS RUSSIA ACCEPTED THE TRUCE?

Yes, with great enthusiasm.

Russia was one of 173 countries to co-sponsor the resolution for Beijing 2022 and Stepan Kuzmenkov, representative of the Russian mission to the United Nations, urged everyone to stick to the truce. But he was also careful to note that the collective punishment of athletes was unacceptable. Russia does not participate in these Games as Russia; its athletes are under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee because of doping sanctions.

CAN RUSSIA BREAK THE TRUCE?

The answer to this question largely depends on who is assessing the violations. In Russia’s view, it never broke the truce – even in 2008 and 2014 – because it viewed entry into South Ossetia and then Crimea as a settlement of internal affairs. The Olympic Truce is established by the United Nations, which has no jurisdiction over internal disputes.

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(Of course, Georgia, Ukraine, and most of the international community don’t see things the same way.)

An invasion of Ukraine, which the United States claims is imminent and which Russia strenuously denies, would undermine the sanctity of the Olympics, dealing a blow to the host country, with which Russia has grown ever closer these last years. Even if an invasion does occur, Putin may wait until after the Games so as not to embarrass Chinese President Xi Jinping.

WHY DIDN’T THE UNITED STATES CO-SPONSOR THIS YEAR’S TRUCE RESOLUTION?

The United States joined the UN consensus adopting the resolution but was not among the 173 (out of 192) members who co-sponsored it. This marked a change from the Tokyo Olympics, when the United States co-sponsored this resolution. In its explanation, the US mission to the UN disputed parts of the resolution presented by China. which he considered not to be “intergovernmentally agreed language”.

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These paragraphs were about Beijing’s vision for the Olympic Games – to inspire young people and promote enthusiasm for winter sports, social progress and world peace – and a commitment to deliver a “green, inclusive, open and clean,” in accordance with the US Sustainable Development Goals. It’s likely, Ku says, that the US just didn’t want to cover China.

allies of the United States in the Indo-Pacific Alliance “Quad” – Japan, Australia and India – also did not co-sponsor, but other allies like France and Germany signed.

WHAT ABOUT THE UNITED STATES’ OWN HISTORY WITH THE OLYMPIC TRUCE?

The United States has had its own share of apparent truce violations – the wars in the Middle East, notably. In 1998, the IOC implored the United States not to violate the spirit of the truce by engaging in military action against Iraq.

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“To my knowledge, none of the decisions or thoughts that the president and his senior politicians undertake have been affected by sporting events,” retorted White House spokesman Mike McCurry.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, however, it was the IOC and the UN that leaned toward a retaliatory US military campaign in Afghanistan. As host nation of the 2002 Winter Olympics, the United States introduced a truce resolution that did not call for a cessation of hostilities in a break from precedent. The CIOs then chief executive Francois Carrard said the body had to be “realistic” and “expected nothing else” beyond safe passage for athletes.

WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE IOC AND THE UNITED NATIONS?

The IOC and the UN are separate entities but often partners. The IOC has permanent observer status with the United Nations and the UN flag has been flown at competition venues since the Nagano Winter Games in 1998. 1998. Both organizations claim to espouse similar goals, and l he UN has declared sport to be a key enabler of its Sustainable Development Goals.

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Note that the IOC actually has more National Committees than the UN has members.

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Associated Press reporters Graham Dunbar in Beijing and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report. New York Associated Press reporter Mallika Sen is on a mission to the Beijing Winter Olympics. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mallikavsen.

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More AP Winter Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports.

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