UN calls for truce during Olympics

UNITED NATIONS – The UN General Assembly is calling for a worldwide truce during next summer’s Athens Olympics. Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said the fact that the 190 other nations in the world body signed as co-sponsors with Greece showed «unprecedented» support for peace – not just during the 17 days of the Athens Games, but «hopefully beyond.» Papandreou said the roots of both the truce and the Olympics itself go back to the eighth century BC. The idea was revived in 1993 to allow athletes from Yugoslavia to participate in the 1994 Games, and Monday’s resolution was the seventh adopted by the General Assembly since then. With the Games returning to their birthplace in Greece for the first time in more than 100 years, Papandreou said, «We want to revive what the basic principles of the Olympics were – which is to become a peace project.» UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed hope that the Olympic Truce would have an impact. «It sends a powerful message, telling the warring parties to stop and reflect… even if it is for 24 hours,» he said. «Hopefully, some of them will stop, not just for 24 hours, but for a much longer period.» «I hope that people in all conflict areas – from Iraq to Afghanistan, to Liberia to the Congo, will really listen to the message. But it is not just those who are actually fighting. The populations should also work to make demands that they want peace, and that the fighting must stop.» International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge thanked the General Assembly for adopting the truce, saying it would give «the youth of the world the chance to show how we all can peacefully coexist, just as they do in the Olympic Village.» The General Assembly also adopted a resolution declaring the year 2005 the «International Year for Sport and Physical Education.» It calls on governments to promote the role of sports «as a tool for health, education, social and cultural development,» and urges developing countries to promote physical education.