Beijing 2022 Paralympics: What is the Olympic Truce? How old is the tradition and why should it be followed?

On February 24, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) condemned the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian government and as a result, the country has been banned from the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Games.

The Olympic Truce, also known as ‘Ekecheiria’, was originally established in Ancient Greece.

What is the Olympic Truce and how old is it?

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The tradition was first implemented in the 19th century BC via the signing of a treaty between three kings: Iphitos of Ellis, Cleosthenes of Pisa and Lycurgus of Sparta.

The National Alpine Ski Centre in Yanqing, China. (Pic credit: Yifan Ding / Getty Images for International Paralympic Committee)

Due to the current political state we are in, the IOC decided to re-establish the concept of the Olympic Truce for the Olympic Games.

Since 1993, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly has consistently expressed its support for the Olympic Truce principle and for the IOC’s mission by adopting, every two years, a resolution called ‘Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal’.

Why does the Olympic Truce exist?

The initial purpose of the tradition was to allow safe participation in the ancient Olympic Games for all athletes and observers from these Greek city-states, which were otherwise almost constantly engaged in conflict with each other.

There were several days of peace before and after the games. The truce was applied in modern times for the first time at the Winter Olympics Lillehammer 1994. The concept was to protect the interest of sport and promote peace.

Nowadays, the purpose of the tradition remains the same; to protect, as far as possible, ‘the interests of the athletes and sport in general and harness the power of sport to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation more broadly’.

More recently, the truce was broken by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and consequently, the country has been banned from the games.