United Nations urges countries to stop fighting during winter Olympics

Share

In a consensus action that included North Korea and South Korea, the United Nations General Assembly on Monday adopted a resolution asking all nations to observe an "Olympic truce" during the 2018 Winter Games in February. Reflecting the special circumstances of the Korean Peninsula - namely, continuing concerns about a military clash - the Olympic Truce resolution calls for "safe passage, access and participation for athletes and relevant persons at the Games".

Last Saturday, Culture Minister Do Jong-hwan left for NY to attend the meeting, with a 10-strong South Korean delegation that includes Lee Hee-beom, chief of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) and Kim Yu-na, a figure skating champion and Honorary Ambassador for the games.

The General Assembly revived the tradition in 1993 and has adopted resolutions before all Olympics since then, but member states involved in conflicts have often ignored the call for a truce.

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.

"I firmly believe that PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will help spread the message of peace through one of the few languages that has the power to unite people around the world, the graceful and universal language of sport".

South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yo has assured this year's Olympics will be a success.

"Just as the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul contributed to the dismantling of the eastern and western camps and the Cold War era, the Government could promote peace on the Korean peninsula through the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and further promote peace and cooperation on the Korean Peninsula".

The joint Korean delegation for the Olympics in September 2000 followed the first inter-Korean summit, between former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, three months earlier in June. "Indeed, PyeongChang represents perhaps the most honest effort to cross the frozen border between the South and North and to foster a peaceful environment".

Organisers are hopeful that the Games can be a vehicle for peace between the two countries.

A record 94 countries have expressed interest in sending athletes to next year's Winter Olympics, although North Korea have yet to indicate whether they will attend the Games.

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".

The South Korean delegation to NY included Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Do Jong-hwan, Ambassador to the United Nations Cho Tae-yul and Ambassador for Public Diplomacy Park Enna, who engaged in events promoting the PyeongChang Olympics.

South Korea's Unification Ministry, who handle all inter-Korean dialogue and attempt to boost cooperation, hope the North will participate at the Winter Olympics.

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".

Share