Olympic Truce for Paris 2024 Collides With Reality

By John Mercury November 24, 2023

“It’s the I.O.C. leveraging their power to maintain the status quo at the Olympics,” Mr. Ross said, “the rest of sport be damned.”

Mr. Bach, who has held the committee presidency since 2013, regularly laments moments when international politics, as he defines them, have encroached on the Olympic truce and the Games at large. But these encroachments only seem to be multiplying.

Before the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, for example, the United States conspicuously joined a handful of countries that declined to co-sponsor the truce resolution drafted by China. And on Tuesday, Russia, voicing displeasure about its general treatment by Olympic officials, called for an unusual vote on the measure, which is normally adopted by acclamation.

The room at times grew tense. The representative from Russia accused the Olympic committee of inconsistency and hypocrisy. The Syrian representative joined others in highlighting the hardships of Palestinian athletes. The representative from France scolded Russia for having “politicized” the discussion.

In the end, 118 member nations, including Belarus, voted in favor of the resolution. Russia and Syria abstained.

“There is no way to separate sports and politics,” said Ashleigh Huffman, former chief of sports diplomacy for the U.S. State Department. While pointing out that the traditional truce ultimately “lacked teeth,” she said that it could nevertheless serve as “an important conversation starter that gives us a framework to aspire to.”

Mr. Bach would seem to agree. In his address in the cavernous assembly hall on Tuesday, he acknowledged that the truce resolution was “our modest contribution to peace.” But he also suggested that people around the world “were exhausted and tired of all the antagonism, the hostility, the hate and bigotry that they are confronted with, day in and day out, in every area of their lives.”

It was a heavy image. If only, he implied, the world would listen to the I.O.C.


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