United Nations, Nov 21 (EFE).- The UN General Assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved by 118 votes in favor and none against a resolution calling for the observance of an “Olympic Truce” for the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games 2024. Russia and its ally Syria abstained in protest of Russia’s recent expulsion from the International Olympic Committee.
The Olympic truce was an ancient Greek tradition that the IOC revived during the Barcelona games of 1992, but since then it had never coincided with two wars of global impact, such as those in Ukraine and Gaza.
The Gaza war, despite being at the center of the concerns of various UN agencies, was barely mentioned during Tuesday’s General Assembly debate, with only the representative of Egypt mentioning it, noting that talk of an Olympic truce should be understood as a message to Israel to accept a ceasefire.
However, the Ukraine conflict did creep into Tuesday’s debate when Russian representative Maria Zabolotskaya took the floor and warned that her country, which had “always” supported the Olympic truce, would abstain this year in protest of “the illegal exclusion of Russian athletes from international sports competitions.”
Russia was expelled from the IOC on Oct. 5 as a sanction for annexing four regions of Ukraine. Its athletes are banned from competing under the Russian flag in Paris in 2024, although the IOC left the door open for them to do so in a neutral capacity.
China, usually a Russian ally, made a call for the depoliticization of the Olympic Games and sport in general.
IOC President Thomas Bach took the floor before the General Assembly to respond to the Russian representative saying that “in the Olympic Movement, there is no ‘global south’ or ‘global north.’ At the Olympic Games, we are all equal.” But, he added, Moscow violated the integrity of the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee “by including as their members sports organizations of Ukrainian regions” that it had annexed.
Bach also warned, although indirectly, against the Russian project to organize the World Friendship Games from September 15 to 29, 2024 in Moscow and Yekaterinburg as an alternative to the Paris Olympics.
“This would lead to the political fragmentation of international sport. It would lead to sport competitions taking place along political lines: The Games of Political Block A. The Games of Political Block B. And so on,” he said.
As an ending note, he added: “In this Olympic spirit, I call on you to come together, adopt the resolution, but even more importantly: uphold this noble Olympic Truce.” EFE