Page last updated at 13:52 GMT, Tuesday, 12 October 2010 14:52 UK

Olympic Games debate

On 11 October 2010, Lord Bates called on the government to support the traditional Olympic Truce for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Lord Bates described how the Olympic Truce was originally established in around 776 BC to create a period during which athletes and their families could travel in safety to the Olympic games.

He pointed out how violations of the truce were extremely rare in ancient times, whereas in recent years the games have been cancelled three times due to war.

"In ancient Greece, people stopped fighting to take part in the Games; in the modern era we stop the Games in order to keep fighting," he said.

"What is it that we have lost in 3,000 years of civilisation that makes even today the notion that combatants may exercise restraint during a period of truce such a distant dream?"

The peer also called on the government to consider introducing a ninth millennium development goal with the aim of reducing the current 30 conflicts around the world by 2015.

Since 1993 the Olympic Truce has been codified in a series of United Nations resolutions stating that member states should pursue "the peaceful settlement of all international conflicts".

In theory, the Truce starts seven days before the Olympic games begins and ceases seven days after the close of the Paralympic Games.

The resolution must be renewed prior to each winter and summer Olympics.

Lord Hall of Birkenhead, chair of the Cultural Olympiad, said that the UK "has a lot to offer the world" on conflict resolution, highlighting Northern Ireland as an example.

The former Paralympic athlete, Baroness Grey-Thompson, agreed that the Olympic Truce was a "wonderful ambition," but she also wanted peers to think about how sport can change the world.

"Sport has such a strong power to influence society and bring about change," the crossbench peer said. "By hosting the Games in 2012 we have an opportunity to set a mark for the other countries that will follow us to try to reach."

Baroness Rawlings, replying for the government, said the UK would call for a fresh UN resolution calling for observance of the Truce for the 2012 Games.

She told peers that the resolution is likely to be adopted by October or November in 2011.

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