International Olympic Truce Centre
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The History of Olympic Truce

What is the Olympic Truce?

Every two years humanity watches in awe as the people of the world unite in friendly competition at the Olympic Games. It’s a truly inspiring spectacle leaving us all wondering … why can’t it always be like this? Imagine peace …

And this is the reason why the Games were first held in 776 BC (approximately) in ancient Olympia. To allow warring Greek city-states to set conflict aside, to celebrate togetherness, to experience peace inspired by sport, to imagine peace …

This is the Olympic Truce. An ancient tradition. A peace accord which lasted through more than 1,200 years of ancient history. A truce which has now been revived to offer hope and an opportunity for dialogue. To encourage and inspire all humanity to … imagine peace.

Ancient Greece

Imagine peace…

These might have been the thoughts of King Ifitos of Elis as he consulted the oracle at Delphi, seeking to put an end to the endless wars between the rival Greek city states.

 As myth has it, the Oracle of Delphi advised king Ifitos to break the cycle of conflict by replacing war with friendly athletic competition every four years. He sought the cooperation of Kings Lykourgos of Sparta and Cleosthenes of Pisa. They agree to a truce called “ekecheiria” and revived the Olympic Games at Olympia in 776 BC. Fighting ceased for seven days before until seven days after the Games, allowing athletes and spectators to travel to Olympia, participate in the Olympic Games, and return to their homelands safely.

It was through these early Games that the ancient tradition of the Olympic Truce was born.

Modern Revival

The modern Olympic Games revived in Athens, Greece in 1896, celebrating humanity, noble competition and the peaceful gathering, through sport and the values and principles of Olympism, of all peoples and cultures.

“If we can have peace for 16 days, then maybe, just maybe, we can have it forever”…

Towards the end of the millenium, a strong move to revive the Olympic Truce is underway. Its aim is to encourage nations to observe the Olympic Truce and to cease hostilities during the Olympic Games. Its hope is to inspire humanity, and create a much needed window of opportunity for dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflict. Its promise is the possibility of peace beyond the duration of the Games.