News Tokyo Olympic Truce 2021 - Bread and Games for Covid-19

Press Release:

Gordon Sillence – Olympic Truce Peace Ambassadors Network, Author of ‘Mainsteaming Sustainability at Large Scale Events – the Case of the Olympic Games’ (Pubished in  Tourism and Peace - A Global Handbook)


Everyone was made fully aware the world’s biggest large scale event the Tokyo Olympic Games 2021 that ended today ironically on the 08.08.21 (exactly 13 years since the Bejing One World One Dream Games were started on the 08.08.2008).  In all the razamataz, my question to you is: ‘’Did you hear or read anywhere any piece of news of the Olympic Truce?’  My guess is that when we last surveyed for people who knew about the Truce at the London 2012 Games, less than 5% knew what it was about let alone when it started or finished, or how it is organised between the UN the IOC and Member States. Or how it is funded by corporate business.  It appears these Games are no different, a far cry from their original purpose of providing a limited period of peace between Ancient Greece’s  city states for sport to replace war and safe passage for participants and spectators to stimulate commerce and replace enmity with friendship.

The ancient Greek tradition of the ekecheiria, or "Olympic Truce", was born in the eighth century B.C., serving as a hallowed principle of the Olympic Games. In 1992, the International Olympic Committee renewed this tradition by calling upon all nations to observe the Truce.

Through its resolution 48/11 of 25 October 1993, the General Assembly urged Member States to observe the Olympic Truce from the seventh day before the opening to the seventh day following the closing of each Olympic Games.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by world leaders in 2015, re-affirmed sport as an “important enabler” of sustainable development.’ ( UN Olympic Truce Site 23/07/2021)

Despite this classic UN rhetoric, the complete lack of promotion of the Truce can only be accredited to the now shameful manner in which the International Olympic Committee (IOC), UN bodies and the Member States implement the Truce at each successive Olympics. Having followed the Truce over the last three Olympics, the peace-wash used by these institutes perpetrates the image of ‘Panem e Circencis’ - Bread and Games - for the masses, a distraction for the many from the problems of the moment as used in Rome 2000years ago.

One only has to look at the current UN site, still hosting last year’s 2020 outdated message from Sec. General Antonio Guterres, and the so-called ‘silent voting’ procedure with which the Truce Resolution was carried over from 2020 to 2021 to see that no one at the top really believes the Truce is a useful mechanism to end global conflict. Instead, this most important of UN mission’s is handed over the UN Office of Sport Peace and Development, which spends its limited money and time on promoting goodwill stories and the role of sport in development, but not offering any effective process to enact it in reality.  

This peace-wash is so far from the original purpose of the Games, which effectively halted years of conflict between the ancient Greek city states by declaring a period of games and not battles between armies and safe passage for spectators for a limited time. And in this limited time a sense of normality, the potential to travel, and the rebuilding of economies was made possible.

Yet isn’t that exactly what we need now, and urgently, in this unprecedented Covid-critical era of Global Change? A sense of normality – yes, sport can give us back both our personal health and human friendship through exercise and game play with others, so well role-modelled by our Olympic athletes. The potential to travel – we are all global citizens and need to travel, to meet others, to explore what is new and different, or even leave our footprints in the sun-drenched sands of some beach paradise somewhere else … The rebuilding of economies - is the travel and tourism industry not the single-most important economic vector that can cross-fertilise with other sectors for our inter-dependent national economics to recover and prosper sustainably?

Clearly the Olympic Truce is not some archaic ideal, but could have a substantial impact on the 2030 Agenda, and the UN does recognise this. But why link a concept such as the Truce to a UN Office for Sport, Peace and Development? This is at the heart of the failure of the UN approach, and by doing this the Truce will never be realised in those areas who need peace most, but instead be limited to diplomatic desktops instead of the world’s 40 plus conflict zones and numerous violence-ridden cities.  Truce belongs firmly in the hands of those in conflict, and the issue needs to be place in the hands of the UN Security Council, where war and peace are fully debated and maintained at our contemporary post-Bretton Woods low-level proxy warfare state of play.

Given the UN Security Council is replete with members who’s arms industries and military expenditures form the military-industrial backbone of the global economy it is no surprise that peace is off the agenda, and government institutions alongside their mainstream media propagate a pallid version of peace and sad version of security, whilst mongering competition, fear, self-survival and finally conflict as the fuel that fires us to act as we do.

We should therefore accept that the Truce cannot be left alone for government to enact, and we must turn to the corporates and civil society to make a call for peace in the interests of justice, fairness, equality and sustainable livelihoods and businesses. If such an alliance could be made – say with just one of the Olympic sponsors – a huge amount of resources could be made available to stimulate a global movement for global peace in our lifetimes – if only for the 6 weeks during the Olympic Games.

I am sure those in the Travel and Tourism industry could get behind this message as part of the road to resilience and recovery in the short term, and promote the ideal of a planet with all nations at peace and safe passage for all to all four corners of the earth. But when left to corporate philanthropy or the overworked, unpaid, disjointed NGO single-issue efforts of civil society, both the Truce and peace are a distant dream washed away in the pandemic. Along with so many other urgent single issue crises, the urgent call for peace now – with all its multiple socio-economic and environmental benefits so necessary for Agenda 2030 implementation – was drowned in the noise of viral mass hysteria created by corporate-led governments clinging to their power though the instruments of fear and oppression.

But if you are enjoying a peaceful summer, having witnessed another lost opportunity to mainstream sustainability, give a thought to all the conflicts around the world each time you see our nations compete and hear the peace-wash, and have an Olympic dream of the Truce as part of the 2030 Agenda, to ensure peace, prosperity and planetary sustainability with no one left behind. Lets’ give Tokyo a miss and all eyes on France 2024 – (now they are a member of the Security Council ☹ 😊… 



International Handbook on Tourism and Peace  2015 - Mainstreaming Sustainability at Large-scale Tourism Events – the Case of the London 2012 Olympic Games’ ,

Tourism 2030 -

United Nations  -

Global Peace Index -

Concerned URL
Keywords Olympic peace, peace, Sustainable Development, mainstreaming sustainability
Target group(s) Businesses , Governments & Administrations
Topics Good Governance & CSR