MANHATTAN: The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted a China-sponsored resolution, co-sponsored by Pakistan and 172 other nations, that called for upholding an Olympic Truce for the time of next year’s Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing, and foster world peace.
The resolution, “Sport for development and peace: Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic idea”, was approved by consensus in the 193-member Assembly on Wednesday.
It “urges members states to observe the Olympic Truce, individually and collectively” from the week before the start of the 24th winter Olympic games in Beijing until the week after the Paralympics.
The Olympics run from Feb. 4-20 next year followed by the Paralympics from March 4-13.
Under the resolution’s terms, the Assembly recognized the unifying power of sport and science as humanity struggles to emerge peacefully from a devastating global pandemic.
Introducing the resolution, China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun said it “sends a powerful message of unity and cooperation to overcome the pandemic.”
China, he said, is committed to hosting an open and inclusive Winter Olympic Games in 2022, which will build resilience to the COVID-‘19 pandemic as it fosters tolerance and mutual understanding.
The Chinese envoy called on member states to reject any acts that undermine the Olympic values and remain open to the peaceful resolution of disputes.
Earlier, Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram, addressing a meeting of the Group of Friends of “Sport for Sustainable Development”, spoke of Islamabad’s commitment to promote sports among youth, and highlighted the launching youth-centered initiatives such as “Kamyab Jawan Sports Drive” that also attaches great importance to women’s participation.
Sports, he said, have a unique capacity to bring together people from different societies, cultures, and backgrounds, especially the Paralympics’ role in promoting greater social inclusion of people with disabilities.
“While capitalizing on the true potential of sports to promote peace and SDGs (sustainable development goals, it is our duty that we do not politicize holding of sport events under superfluous reasons in various countries,” Ambassador Akram said.
Wednesday’s resolution also recalled the ancient Greek tradition of ekecheiria, calling for an “Olympic Truce,” to encourage a peaceful environment and ensure safe passage and participation of athletes in the games, “thereby mobilizing the youth of the world to the cause of peace.”
The assembly resolution underlined the importance of cooperation among U.N. member states in implementing “the values of the Olympic truce around the world” and emphasized the importance of work promoting this by the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee and the United Nations.
The General Assembly revived such calls for an Olympic Truce in 1993 after an appeal from the International Olympic Committee allowed athletes of war-torn Yugoslavia, which was on the brink of breaking up, to participate in the 1992 Barcelona summer games.
The UN General Assembly President, Abdulla Shahid, who spoke before the resolution’s adoption, said that sport “brings together people of every religion, race, ethnicity, and political background to celebrate humanity’s athletic prowess and potential.”
“It diverts energies from hostility and conflict towards friendly competition and promotes an active lifestyle and supports our mental and physical well-being,” he said.
It can instill the spirit of camaraderie, support quality education, and “relieve the psychological stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken a big toll on our collective psyche and left us so weary.”
Speaking in the General Assembly, Ambassador Mohammad Aamir Khan, Pakistan’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, said Pakistan was “pleased” to co-sponsor the resolution, and congratulated China for the overwhelming support it received.
Pakistan is committed to promoting sports, including the participation of women and girls, he said, emphasizing the positive contribution they can make to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Ambassador Aamir Khan wished all the best for a successful sports event – like the 2008 Summer Olympics which were also hosted by China.
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