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Wednesday, 13 November 2013 19:26

Address delivered by Dr Constantinos Filis, Director of the International Olympic Truce Centre, at the 2nd International Forum on Sport, Peace and Development in Geneva on 11 May 2011.

Let me first congratulate the International Olympic Centre and the United Nations for organizing this event and for giving us the chance to share and exchange ideas and views on Sport, Peace and Development. I believe we will all agree that this two-day session has been constructive, productive and indeed fruitful.

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION
Olympic Truce was born in ancient times, when King Ifitos of Elis, seeking to establish peace among rival Greek city states, visited the oracle at Delphi. He was advised to break the cycle of conflict every four years by replacing war with friendly athletic competition. Leaders of the city states agreed to a Truce called “Ekecheiria” and organized the first Olympic Games at Olympia. Fighting ceased from seven days before until seven days after the Games, allowing athletes, artists and spectators to travel to Olympia, participate in the Olympic Games and return to their homelands in peace.
This is how the ancient tradition of the Olympic Truce was born in 776 BC. It was a truly remarkable and effective truce, respected during almost 1200 years of ancient history.
The Olympic Truce was revived in 2000 with the establishment of the International Olympic Truce Centre and the International Olympic Truce Foundation.

Ladies and Gentleman,
Conflict is a reality. On every level - global, regional, national, interpersonal, religious, racial, gender. But as we all know, conflict is not easily resolved. The Olympic Truce does not promise peace. But it does offer hope and inspiration. It provides a window of opportunity for dialogue leading to conflict resolution. And it promotes a culture of understanding, tolerance, fair play and respect for diversity. Therefore, Truce should be present and visible not only shortly before or during Olympic Games but also in the interim years.

IMPLEMENTATION
As the International Olympic Truce Centre, our task is to stimulate dialogue on the broadest possible level; to get humanity - inspired by sport and the Olympic spirit - to go beyond imagining peace ... to discuss the opportunities for peace ... and to reflect on our values. But above all, we want to instill in a new generation an outlook based on a healthy sporting spirit and a culture of understanding, consensus, dialogue; a culture that seeks common denominators and tolerates difference; a culture of peace. We are also pursuing a systematic dialogue between younger and older generations. We want to hear from the young about their concerns at what is often the pointless hostility and intransigence that sometimes leads to conflict - even armed conflict. We want to link their concerns about the future with the cultivation of a new culture whose principle aspiration is to bridge our differences rather than take the easy path of intensifying them. The implementation program of the International Olympic Truce Centre has the following objectives:
To create awareness and develop an understanding of the Olympic Truce
To stimulate discussion about the value and ideals of the Olympic Truce in today’s world.

The implementation strategy rests, among others, on the following key activities:
Extensive use of social media.
Involvement of children and youngsters, promoted through
online web activities,
educational programs, sports
Roundtable discussions.

THE OLYMPIC TRUCE FORUM
The Olympic Truce Forum is an online discussion forum dedicated to dialogue revolving around truce.
The forum consists of two sections. The public section is open to everyone. The specialist section is open by invitation to members of the Olympic Movement, athletes, journalists and academics - those with a special interest in sport and peace. Members of this forum will have the opportunity to learn more about the Olympic Truce and to participate in a global dialogue exploring the relevance of the Olympic Truce in today’s world. All visitors will be able to extensively use social media to share and communicate their ideas.

INVOLVEMENT OF CHILDREN AND YOUNGSTERS
Ladies and Gentleman, As I said, one of our most important tasks is to inform, educate and engage future generations through and about the concept of the Olympic Truce. Apart from external activities in Ancient Olympia and the Panathinaikon Stadium, where children learn about and come closer to the Olympic Truce’s ideals while engaged in sports activities, we are also developing a section on our website that will be dedicated to children. They will be invited, through an extensive school-activated interactive program, to participate in various activities within the forum. But we will also be visiting them at their schools and universities, where we will grab their attention by hosting sporting events with well-known athletes. Teenagers from 16 to 18 years old will also have access to a virtual video game based on sports and the Olympic Games, aimed at bringing them closer to strong Truce messages. Both children and adolescents will learn about the Olympic Truce. More importantly, they will actively engage and participate. My strong belief is that there are lessons to learn from younger generations, as they often have a clearer view of the world than adults.

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS
Given the fluid situation in the wider Mediterranean and Middle East region, and bearing in mind the fact that Greece is situated in a troubled area and has thus been forced, in a sense, to develop expertise in mediation, we are thinking of hosting a series of roundtable discussions, in addition to our strong social media program. They will involve people from diverse backgrounds, countries and regions, and will initiate dialogue through the window of opportunity provided by the Olympic Truce. The aim is to underscore the notion - the reality - that there is more that unites us than that which divides us.

CONCLUSION
With this strong and focused implementation program, but also with other even more creative initiatives, the International Olympic Truce Centre will strive to develop a culture of peaceful dialogue, inspired by sport and the Olympic spirit. We will contribute to the values of understanding, tolerance, fair play, respect for diversity and, in cooperation with the International Olympic Truce Foundation and the United Nations, we will also participate in peace-building missions. Actually, we are about to publish a Good Practices Guide that will be distributed to UN peacekeepers.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sport and the Olympic Games will not impose peace.
But they might inspire it.
We will harness this inspiration to create dialogue.
To allow humanity to imagine peace ....inspired by sport.

For today.
And for tomorrow.

Thank you.!

The IOTC

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