The UN General Assembly on Tuesday (21 November) called on all countries in the world to respect the traditional "Olympic truce" on the occasion of the Paris Games next summer, a symbolic resolution criticised by Russia, which denounced "political interference" in sport.

The resolution, adopted by 118 votes in favour, none against and two abstentions (Russia and Syria), calls on member states to "observe the Olympic Truce individually and collectively" from the seventh day before the start of the Paris Olympics (26 July to 11 August 2024) and until the seventh day after the end of the Paralympic Games (28 August to 8 September).

The text prepared by France also stresses "the importance of cooperation between Member States to apply the values of the Olympic Truce throughout the world".

"I don't remember a world facing so many confrontations, divisions, polarization," International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach told the UN, calling for "sending an unequivocal message to the world: 'Yes, we can come together even in times of wars and crises.'"

"The Games are an extremely inspiring example because they show what we have in common rather than what divides us," added Tony Estanguet, head of the Paris Organising Committee.

Inspired by the ancient Greek tradition of "ekecheiria", which imposed the cessation of all hostilities during the ancient Olympic Games, this "truce" was reintroduced by the UN in 1993, following an initiative of the IOC.

Still adopted without a vote

Until now, it had always been adopted without a vote, by consensus, every two years before the Winter and Summer Games. But this year Russia called for a vote, saying it was "unacceptable" that the text did not refer to the "principles of equal and non-politicised access" to sports competitions.

The IOC considers Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 to be a violation of the Olympic Truce linked to the Beijing 2022 Olympics and has recommended that international federations ban their competitions from Russian soil and ban any official Russian symbols – anthem or flag. But he hasn't decided yet about the Games.

"There is a dangerous tendency to interfere in politics in sport and use it as an instrument of political pressure," Russia's deputy ambassador to the UN, Maria Zabolotskaya, said, calling the "discrimination" against Russian athletes "the height of hypocrisy and cynicism."

"This is in no way discrimination against athletes, it concerns respect for the rules of the Olympic Charter," Bach told reporters, as the IOC suspended the Russian Olympic Committee in October for placing several sports organisations in occupied Ukrainian regions under its authority.

On the other hand, he deplored Russia's announcement of the organization of "friendship games" in 2024.

"Sports events must be organised by sports organisations," he insisted, adding that if the competition were to take place, "sport would be part of the world's political tensions and divisions".

With AFP

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