Shock: Work on Centrepiece of London 2012 Games Yet to Start.

Lord Bates

Last week the Olympic Delivery Authority may have been able to proudly declare that construction work was 88% complete, but in one crucial area work has barely started—The Olympic Truce.

The Olympic Truce is a Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly which requires all signatories to “pursue initiatives for peace and reconciliation in the spirit of the ancient Games for the period seven days before the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games until seven days after the end of the Paralympic Games’.

All 193 member states sign it, but no-one has ever implemented it for over twenty-five years. In 1994 the Olympic Truce was adopted as a full resolution of the United Nations General Assembly for the first time. The day before the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway a mortar shell landed in the market square of the besieged former Olympic City of Sarajevo killing 66 and injuring 197 more. The Olympic Truce was invoked to broker a ceasefire in Sarajevo and to allow in much needed humanitarian aid saving many lives.

In October this year the Olympic Truce Resolution will be proposed at the United Nations by the British government as host nation for the forthcoming Games, but as yet there are no specific commitments as to how it will be implemented.

Some in government have called the truce at best “worthless sentiment” and at worst “dangerous appeasement”: I disagree but I can understand that others might see it that way, in which case the only honest position for HMG to take is simply to become the first host nation of the Games to refuse to propose the truce or to sign it. But if they sign it and if they propose it then they should implement it.

In fairness to the present Coalition government they have only been looking at this for a year, the previous government and LOCOG have sat on it for the previous five years. Also in the past few weeks the prime minister has come out and declared that he regards the Olympic Truce as an ‘historic opportunity’ and since that bold statement in the House of Commons on 29 June, 2011 there has been a flurry of activity, but still no hard commitment to show for it.

We are told that implementing the truce will be very difficult because we “only have a year,” but some of us may recall that when it came to implementing other UN resolutions calling for military intervention vast resources and international resolve could be assembled and deployed over a single weekend—so as usual it’s not a question of resources but resolve.

Moreover, if the UK is able to present a bold and imaginative way of implementing the truce when it comes to propose the resolution at the UN General Assembly in October then it can have the moral authority to invite other signatories to do the same. If it doesn’t then the other member states will assume that the resolution will be ‘lip service’ as usual and the ‘historic opportunity’ will have been missed.

The Olympic Truce wasn’t just part of the ancient Olympic Games it was the entire point of the ancient Games. It was a response to a question posed by a king of Greece in 774BC to the Oracle at Delphi: “How can we end the perpetual state of war between the city states of Greece?” he asked. The response came: “The problem is that fighting men and those that deploy them can’t stop fighting because they are full of fear. They are fearful of looking weak to their opponents but even more so they are fearful of looking weak to their supporters. If you want to stop the fighting you need to find a way of allowing the fighting men to lay down their arms without looking weak.” The brilliant answer to the question was the ancient Olympic Games where men could wrestle, race, throw spears without killing each other and competing under common rules together as Olympians.

London represents a unique opportunity for the Olympic Games to rediscover their true purpose in the modern era and to hand on a legacy which is not measured merely in medals won, records broken or land reclaimed but in lives saved and peace restored. That is a surely a legacy worth ‘not fighting’ for.

Michael Bates is currently in Sarajevo 1000 miles into a 3500 miles walk from Olympia, Greece to London to highlight the Olympic Truce. Details of his progress can be found at

8 comments for “Shock: Work on Centrepiece of London 2012 Games Yet to Start.

  1. Gar
    02/08/2011 at 4:39 pm

    I see the noble lord has done other walks in the past for other causes. It does not demean the
    present one. He obviously enjoys walking.

    I prefer the circular motion of the push bike.

  2. Senex
    02/08/2011 at 7:21 pm

    Ah! The Oracle at Delphi; finest intelligence network the world has ever known. So effective and feared was it, the Romans raised it to the ground after helping themselves to its treasure. If only people could turn to their intelligence services for the answers they need. Me! I use an eight ball.

    Will there be an Olympic Truce?

    Ref: Ask the Magic 8-Ball

    • MilesJSD
      02/08/2011 at 10:17 pm

      (me, I maintain a beard, and a slow buddhist-like pace)

      and the best Olympic ‘truce’ would be to locate it permanently in Greece.

  3. maude elwes
    04/08/2011 at 12:08 pm

    The entire 2012 Olympic cauldron is the biggest fiddle to the UK tax payer, as yet to be exposed.

    Those on the take and those in the seat of power, making it possible for those on the take, is unsurpassed in unbridled abuse of power since the fall of Rome.

    And more than that, they are loving it because they know there will be no fall out or come back once all is revealed.

  4. Senex
    04/08/2011 at 3:26 pm

    Sorry Miles I deliberately used an oxymoron.

    First; what MLB has missed is that the Pythian Games at Delphi were the precursor to the Olympic Games and given that Delphi was the communication hub of the region for such a very long time the concept of the Olympic Games was a natural and politically neutral, albeit parochial, version of the Delphi games.

    The Oracle was the High Priestess of Apollo. However, when the Romans abandoned their pagan beliefs in favour of Christianity the 700 hundred year influence of Delphi was a serious threat to a fledgling faith. Delphi had seen many political upheavals during its time but its wealth had never been plundered because it all belonged to Apollo.

    By destroying Delphi instead of allowing a natural decline Delphi was raised to the status of a legend never to be forgotten. Why was it that no Christian church was ever built over the site when so many others were built over other pagan temples? The metaphor of Delphi and its pagan beliefs was to be obliterated from history by a church hierarchy and its priestesses tortured or burned at the stake.

    The Oracle in 393AD declared to Theodosius I:

    “Tell the king; the fair wrought house has fallen. No shelter has Apollo, nor sacred laurel leaves; the fountains are now silent; the voice is stilled. It is finished.”

    Before Delphi became a byword the entrance to the temple was marked with the words “Know Thyself”. The answers you seek are to be found within – the masses are not to be trusted. Later when the place became very wealthy these words were appended to say “Know Thyself – Nothing in Excess”.

    This was the wisdom of Apollo to the most powerful in the then known world. Here in the present and given the decline of Christianity what metaphor is there to consider except that of the legend of the Oracle at Delphi?

    Ref: History
    389 AD; Declaration to Theodosius

  5. Twm O'r Nant
    06/08/2011 at 9:06 am

    “If only people could turn to their intelligence services for the answers they need. Me! I use an eight ball.”

    Isn’t that the CIA? Perhaps Wikipedia has taken over from them.

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