United Nations to adopt Olympic Truce for PyeongChang Winter Olympics

Katie Ormerod in action in Milan
2017 Action Plus  Pierre Teyssot

Katie Ormerod in action in Milan Credit 2017 Action Plus Pierre Teyssot

The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution by acclamation Monday urging all countries to stop hostilities and observe a truce during the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea — a message especially aimed at North Korea. "It says that, no matter what is going on in state capitals around the world, people will always have a space in which to engage and connect".

Lee Hee Beom, president of the South Korean organizing committee, said the resolution signifies the General Assembly's "strong wish that Pyeongchang will provide the window of opportunity to foster an environment conducive to building and sustaining peace on the Korean peninsula, and in northeast Asia".

In a speech before the assembly, Kim Yu-na, a former South Korean figure skating champion and honorary ambassador to the PyeongChang games, touted the Olympic spirit. "The Olympic Charter states the goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity", she said.

In his words, "Only the United Nations member states can guarantee the athletes the safe passage to the Olympic Games".

Still, the previous time South Korea hosted the Olympics, which was the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, Kim's grandfather Kim Il Sung, the founder of the North Korean state, boycotted them after a plan to co-host the event fell apart.

North Korean figure skaters Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-sik qualified for the pairs competition last month, however.

"Today, I hope to witness this power again", she continued. "Pyeonchang represents perhaps the most honest effort to cross frozen borders between North and South Korea and foster a peaceful environment", Kim added. The two countries remain technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended with a truce and not a peace treaty. Two others are the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. "The Republic of Korea is ready to welcome the world".

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach told the 193-member world body that with the resolution the General Assembly is "creating the conditions for all athletes to compete in peace". The Olympic Truce, which traces back to the Ekecheiria (a truce held during the Olympics in ancient Greece), has been an Olympic tradition since it passed the UN General Assembly in October 1993 and took force during the Lillehammer Winter Olympics the next year.

The Ministry made the call following the United Nations' adoption of the Olympic Truce resolution in New York City yesterday. "At the same time, we do know that this may be a very last-minute decision by North Korea", said South Korean Sports Minister Do Jong-hwan at an Olympics preview event in NY. The South Korean government has reportedly looked into whether the suspension of North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile activity and the reduction of the South Korea-US joint military exercises could be a starting point for dialogue on the North Korean nuclear issue.

President Moon Jae-in in a Berlin address in July called for the participation of North Korea in the PyeongChang Olympics and urged Pyongyang "to utilize these series of precious events held in Asia as an opportunity for building peace on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia, and the world".

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