Ahead of Winter Games Annan urges all warring factions to observe Olympic

“The period of the Olympic Games is often long enough for us to hope for a permanent ceasefire, a permanent peace,” Mr. Annan told journalists at a media luncheon in Davos, Switzerland, held to review the impact of sports in the world.“I believe it is long enough for the protagonists and people who are destroying their own countries and killing each other to pause for a moment, look around them and see what damage they are doing. And hopefully some of them will not pick up the weapons again and will realize there is another way. It is something that the Olympic Truce offers. That hope, I think, we should all accept,” he said.In 2001 the General Assembly adopted a resolution, introduced by the United States and co-sponsored by 172 Member States, to observe the Truce. In ancient Greece, it lasted from the seventh day before the opening of the Games to the seventh day after their closing. That period of peace allowed athletes, artists and spectators from several countries to travel to Olympia, take part in the Olympic Games and return home safely.This year’s Winter Olympics run from 10 to 26 February. The next Summer Olympics is scheduled to take place in Beijing, China, in 2008.“People in every nation love sport,” Mr. Annan said. “Its values are universal. It is a global language, capable of bridging social, cultural and religious divides. It can be a powerful tool for fostering understanding, tolerance and peace. I believe sport contributes to personal development and growth. It teaches us teamwork and fair play. It builds self-esteem and opens doors to new opportunities.”The UN is drawing increasingly on the potential of sport in its work around the world, he said, noting that the UN General Assembly not only declared 2005 the International Year of Sport and Physical Education, but also has requested an action plan to strengthen UN partnerships with governments, sports organizations and the private sector.While in Davos, the Secretary-General also held a number of meetings with the leaders from the business and political world as well as opinion makers, including Amre Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, and with Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

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