London’s Churches lead Olympic ‘journey to peace’

The idea of an Olympic truce traces its origins back to the 8th century BC when a literal ‘laying down of arms’ was observed to allow athletes and spectators to travel safely to and from the Games in ancient Greece. Over recent years that ideal has been revived in order to promote peace and greater international cooperation in our contemporary world.
For the London 2012 Olympic Games, Christian Churches in the UK have also picked up the theme of 100 days of peace around this major sporting event, encouraging communities to come up with new ways of promoting peace in homes and schools, parishes and dioceses, in the hopes of leaving a lasting legacy for the nation, long after the Olympic torch has moved on.
100 days of peace will be launched at an all night prayer vigil in London’s central Trafalgar Square on Friday June 8th by Church leaders including Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and the Anglican Bishop of London Richard Chartres. Among the projects designed to support this push for peace is a publication entitled ‘Your Journey to Peace’, produced by Redemptorist Publications, in partnership with ‘Missio’ and the faith based ‘More Than Gold’ Olympic organisation.

About Gertrude

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. and the courage to change the things I can... On Twitter: @marion_luscombe
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One Response to London’s Churches lead Olympic ‘journey to peace’

  1. The 1956 Olympic Games was held in Melbourne Australia during the height of the Cold War. Throughout the world, there was much global tension and political unrest because of the Suez Crisis, the invasion of Hungary by Russia, tension between East and West Germany and between main-land China and Taiwan. A decade earlier, World War Two shook the foundation of human civilization. It should have served a lesson for future generations that aggression and violence was not the way to win world peace.
    The first boycott of an Olympic Games was at the 1956 Melbourne Games. A number of countries pulled out of the Games as a protest because of the Suez Crisis and Russia invading Hungary. Athletes were being segregated in the Olympic Village and also fighting broke out between Russian and Hungarian players during a water polo match. It was the fighting which prompted the boy to write his letter in an attempt to save the Games and to get all the athletes together.
    Foreign governments had high-jacked the Games and the athletes were a pawn in their game. The Olympic Movement was being torn apart. The IOC and the Organizing Committee had given up all hope of saving the Games from ending in failure.
    Watching all of this was a schoolboy from Swinburne Junior Technical School who was training to be an apprentice carpenter. He was very concerned at what was happening and he came up with an ‘idea’ of holding a peace march during the Closing Ceremony. He wrote an anonymous letter to the chairman of the Organizing Committee Wilfrid Kent Hughes setting out his ‘idea’. The boy included a drawing to help explain his idea. (Later he was asked why he wanted to remain anonymous, he replied “In case people thought it was a silly idea.”)
    In his letter he wrote, “And there shall be only One Nation. War, politics and nationality will be all forgotten, what more could anybody want if the whole world became One Nation.”
    The president of the IOC Avery Brundage agreed to the boy’s request and changed the rules of the Games. For the first time in Olympic history, athletes were allowed to march in the Closing Ceremony. It was also the first International Peace March to be held in the history of Mankind. Prior to those Games, athletes had never before marched in an Olympic Closing Ceremony since the Games began in 776 B.C..
    Since 1956, athletes have continued to march in the Closing Ceremony as one nation as a show of global unity. They will continue to do so on the final day of the London Olympic Games 2012.

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