November 25, 2017

Statement by H.E. Mr. Andreas Mavroyiannis Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cyprus on “Sport for Peace and Development”

Mr. President,

It gives me great pleasure to address the Assembly today on the issue of Olympic Truce, that is the idea that humanity can achieve a universally conflict-free environment, even for a limited time period. The warmest congratulations must be extended to the impressive and laudable efforts of the Foreign Minister of Greece, Mr. Papandreou and the President of the International Olympic Committee, Mr. Rogge in order for this endeavour to materialise.

Mr. President,

I wish to very briefly, reiterate Cyprus’s strong support for the concept of the Olympic Truce, which could be the prelude of a world free of hate, armed conflict and acts of aggression, as described in the comprehensive Draft Resolution tabled by Greece and which has the vocation to become a decisive threshold in this direction. In the same spirit, we welcome the Draft Resolution submitted by Tunisia under the same agenda item, pertinently underlying the intimate link between sport, peace and development. Particularly auspicious are the references to the contribution of physical education to the welfare of children, the need to intensify efforts to combat doping on an international level and utilising sport as a medium to enhance health awareness and to building a culture of peace.

Sport, peace, culture, humanism, and respect for universal ethical principles are indeed the quintessential ideals of Olympism.

The invaluable contribution of the Olympic Games to the human spirit and civilization has been evident since they were first held in 776 B.C. in the sacred site of Olympia in honour of the Olympian God Zeus. Cyprus is proud to have been part of the Olympic ideal since its inception, with Cypriot athletes consistently competing in the Games in Olympia.

The sacred tradition of “Ekecheiria” or Olympic Truce was also born in the 8th Century B.C. and lasted for twelve centuries. It was observed for 7 days before the beginning and 7 days after the end of the Games, in order to allow the athletes and spectators to safely travel to and from Olympia. It was the incarnation of the preponderance of the lofty ideals pursued by the institution of the Olympic games.

Mr. President,

I would like to unreservedly support the appeal, as embedded in the United Nations Millennium Declaration, for the observance of the Olympic Truce as a matter of tradition. This way, each country organising the Olympic Games in the future, could make it an imperative for this truce to be honoured in every Olympiad, thus tabling the present Resolution at the General Assembly biannually, preceding Winter and Summer Games.

While the rationale of the excellent Resolution we have before us is aiming at conflict conditions significantly different from those in antiquity, the aspiration of humanity remains remarkably similar: the termination of all acts of hostility, but also the peaceful settlement of international conflicts. The demonstration that what eludes us for so long is achievable even briefly, and that even under hostile circumstances what unites us can be stronger than the reasons for fighting each other, can greatly contribute in creating an irresistible dynamic for peace, reconciliation and searching of means other than war and violence for resolving differences. Indeed, the educational value of good example is at the very heart of the philosophy of Olympism.

Displaying an inherent belief in the unifying power of all manifestations of culture, and especially sports, I would like, on behalf of my Government, to wish the very best to everyone involved in the realisation of this ambitious project.

Thank you, Mr. President.