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South Ossetia: Olympic Truce

See Global Voices special coverage page on the South Ossetia crisis.

Often overshadowing the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in the international media, the conflict between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia has started to raise questions about what the international sporting event is meant to represent. With military action coinciding with the opening of the games, some bloggers are reminding readers of the Olympic Truce. AllEver explains more.

The unfortunate events in South Ossetia, Georgia over the past few days have brought the Olympic Truce to mind. During the Ancient Olympic games, a universal truce was observed between all participating city-states. […]

If a participating city-state would engage in any conflict and violate the truce, they were given stiff fines and forbidden from competing in the games. Something which was considered a big disgrace.

There is a modern movement created to uphold the Olympic Truce. The United Nations have adopted the “Olympic Truce Resolution” for the Beijing 2008 games. Yet we see two of the countries competing in the games at this moment, Georgia and Russia, engaging in military conflicts over land disputes in South Ossetia.

[…]

There should be more education on what the Olympic Truce is about, and nations need to start respecting it again. If we cannot respect and uphold peace for a couple of weeks every four years, what kind of civilization is this we’re supposed to have produced for ourselves. How hostile and unstable modern society has become?

I can only hope these conflicts will soon seize, and that the two countries will follow the example of their athletes and reconcile.

Giusco's Corner also comments on the Olympic Truce.

In these days the headlines of international mass media deal mainly with the Olympic games in Beijing and the war between Russia and Georgia. In the ancient Greece, when the Olympic games took place, conflicts between cities were interrupted, in order to allow the young population to take part into the sport competitions. This was called ‘ekecheiria’ (olympic truce), and was established for the first time in 776 bC.

[…]

In spite of this call, while in ancient times the olympic truce was respected, in our modern ‘civilized’ times – when Olympic games have become a global event ruled by business and politics – truce has been rarely respected, as the facts of these days in the Caucasus are showing.

Maybe we should all think a bit about this…

Mad Minerva 2.0, also says the true spirit of the games has been lost.

While the world's been distracted by the Olympic fanfare, the Caucasus has burst into flames as Georgia and Russia come to blows over South Ossetia. Amid all the glittering Olympic rhetoric of world unity and whatnot, this is a harsh dose of brutal reality. The ancient Greeks, always a scrappy lot that fought each other as much they fought non-Greeks, at least had the idea of the “Olympic truce” to suspend hostilities while the Games were in session. No such luck for modern Games. The “truce” today is simply an idea, and one that looks increasingly naive.

[…]

Time to send in the clowns — I mean, the diplomats.

But perhaps there is some hope. While Unzipped posts a photograph of the two athletes embracing, Penguin Six notes that Natalia Paderina from Russia and Nino Salukvadze from Georgia made a call for peace.

An early leader for the Pierre de Coubertin medal for sportsmanship is a pair of shooters, one from Russia and one from Georgia, who shared the medal platform today in the Womens’ 10m air pistol. Georgia’s Nino Salukvadze and Russia’s Natalia Paderina, former teammates on the USSR team, collected the bronze and silver today respectively, but took a moment to appeal for peace in the trouble South Ossetia area.

Beijing Olympic Games 2008, however, notes with irony that Paderina and Salukvadze won medals in… shooting.

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