07 December, 2004
To honor the return of the Olympic Games to its birthplace, the Greek Embassy in collaboration with the EU Commission Delegation in the USA, has organized a series of cultural and artistic events throughout the year of the Olympics. For the closing event which is an exhibition and performing arts, titled “Olympic truce: Pieces of Peace” each participating country to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, was invited to contribute a work of art that will be exhibited from December 13-17, 2004 at the Delegation of the European Commission.
The Olympic Arts Festival 2004 celebrates the Olympic Movement and demonstrates the cultural aspects of the Olympic Games in showcasing the works of artists from the international community. The goal of the Olympic Arts Festival 2004 is to revive this ancient practice and to present Art as the indisputable advocate of the Olympic Ethos and a bridge, which brings peace, reconciliation and unites the peoples of the world through the Olympic Spirit in preparation for the Summer Olympic Games 2004 in Athens.
About one hundred Embassies located in Washington have responded. Most of them will be participating in a Fine Arts exhibition and other parallel cultural events, which would manifest the Olympic Spirit through the Arts. The invited artists originate from the participating countries in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. As ambassadors of their nations, they will express their ideas and thoughts about the meaning of the Olympic Spirit in a broader sense, and the Olympic Truce in a more specific context, by creating or offering works of art that will interpret those ideas. In a period of international divisions and conflict, the Festival will strive to bring together artists in a collaborative, communicative and interactive effort to develop a cross-cultural dialogue. The Exhibition Brochure in PDF File HereA truce (in Greek, ekecheiria, which literally means "holding of hands") was announced before and during each of the ancient Olympic festivals, allowing athletes, artists and spectators to travel safely to Olympia, participate in the Olympic Games and return to their homelands in peace.
776 B.C.: These were troubled times in ancient Greece with rival city-states constantly at war. King Ifitos of Elis, seeking to establish peace, visited the oracle at Delphi. As myth has it, he was advised to break the cycle of conflict every four years by replacing war with friendly athletic competition. Ifitos seeked the cooperation of Kings Lycourgos of Sparta and Cleosthenes of Pisa. They agreed to "Ekeheiria" and organized the first Olympic Games at Olympia. Fighting ceased from seven days before until seven days after these early Games when the ancient tradition of Olympic Truce was born - a truly remarkable and effective truce, respected during more than 1200 years of ancient history.
1896: The Olympic Games were revived and Athens organized the first Olympic Games of the modern era, celebrating humanity, noble competition and peaceful co-existence of all peoples and cultures.
1992: The International Olympic Committee calls upon the international community to observe the Olympic Truce. Since 1993 the United Nations General Assembly has passed resolutions and called four times its Member States to observe the Olympic Truce, individually and collectively. More than 160 Heads of State and Government signed its Millennium Declaration in September 2000 that included such observation.
In 2002, the collection of signatures by international personalities launched in Ancient Olympia, during the lighting of the Olympic Flame for the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games.
On November 3, 2003, an unprecedented 190UN member-states adopted a United Nations General Assembly resolution submitted by Greece, urging the observance of the Olympic Truce during the Athens Games. Hundreds of international leaders and personalities from the fields of politics, sports, religion and culture have already pledged their support for this global peace initiative.
Today, the Olympic Truce has become an expression of mankind's desire to build a world based on the rules of fair competition, humanity, reconciliation and tolerance.