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Peter Millett

Ambassador to Libya, Tripoli

Part of UK in Jordan

22nd July 2012

The Olympic Truce

In ancient Greece, where the Olympic Games originated, there was a sacred tradition that warring city states would lay down their arms to allow athletes to compete in the Games. Warlords were unable to take the opportunity of teams crossing their territory to score points against their enemies, or take sportsmen hostage.  Greeks could concentrate on sport, not conflict.

The tradition of the Olympic Truce has continued into the modern Games. A United Nations resolution – adopted last October, and co-sponsored by all 193 members of the General Assembly – reaffirmed the importance of the truce for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The truce was declared this week, as the final week’s countdown to the Games began.

The cynics will say: so what? Are the disputes and conflicts round the world going to stop just because of an ancient tradition? Do we really expect warring factions, for example in Syria, to stop fighting? Aren’t we just paying lip-service to a worthy but ineffective concept?

Cynics abound, but they miss the point. The Olympic Truce is about values; and it is values that are at the heart of the Olympic movement. The values of determination, excellence and personal achievement. The values of participation, teamwork and friendship. The values of justice, fairness and respect. Thousands of athletes from over 200 countries coming together and demonstrating to the world their prowess in their chosen sport.

So although the Olympic Truce may not stop wars during the Games, it should remind us of the importance of Olympic values. When applied to the reality of this region, we can see that the truce will not stop Bashar Al Assad from using tanks and helicopters against civilians. But the link between Syria, the truce and Olympics reminds us of the importance of hard work, perseverance and co-operation. So despite disappointments, we should not give up and, for the sake of the Syrian people, we must keep trying to do better.

We should also remember that the Games will leave a legacy which highlights the importance of sport for the health of a nation and the joy of competition. It is not just about the medals, it is about participating and doing your best.

The next two weeks will see the greatest celebration of sport in the world. And after the Olympics we will marvel at the Paralympians, many of whom have struggled with disabilities and injuries to reach the pinnacle of success. London is ready, welcoming the world’s athletes, their families and thousands of spectators.

The Jordanian team flies out today (Sunday 22nd), proud to represent their country, enthusiastic and ready to take part. Let us hope the London weather respects the Olympic Truce so that the rain lets up and the sun comes out.

About Peter Millett

Peter arrived in Tunis on 23 June 2015 to take up his post as Ambassador to Libya. Previously he was British Ambassador to Jordan from February 2011 to June 2015. He was High Commissioner to…

Peter arrived in Tunis on 23 June 2015 to take up his post as
Ambassador to Libya.
Previously he was British Ambassador to Jordan from February 2011 to June 2015.
He was High Commissioner to Cyprus from 2005 – 2010.
He was Director of Security in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
from 2002-2005, dealing with all aspects of security for British
diplomatic missions overseas.
From 1997-2001 he served as Deputy Head of Mission in Athens.
From 1993-96 Mr Millett was Head of Personnel Policy in the FCO.
From 1989-93 he held the post of First Secretary (Energy) in the UK
Representative Office to the European Union in Brussels, representing
the UK on all energy and nuclear issues.
From 1981-1985 he served as Second Secretary (Political) in Doha.
Peter was born in 1955 in London.  He is married to June Millett and
has three daughters, born in 1984, 1987 and 1991.  
His interests include his family, tennis and travel.