UN chief appeals for pause in armed conflict during Olympic Games

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Syrian refugee Hanan Dacka takes part in the 2016 Olympic Games torch relay in Brasilia, Brazil, on 3 May 2016. Photo: UNHCR/Gabo Morales

With the Olympic Games just one week away, the UN Secretary-General has expressed hope that the race to win medals will be matched with equal resolve to end fighting worldwide.

Ban Ki-moon has called for a global ceasefire in observance of the longstanding tradition of ensuring that the games are conducted in an atmosphere of peace.

The tradition of the Olympic Truce began in Ancient Greece to allow athletes and others to travel to and from the games safely.

Dianne Penn reports.

Although a worldwide cessation of hostilities may seem impossible, Mr Ban said "the Olympic spirit calls on us to rise to the challenge."

He said a break in fighting would demonstrate the values that the Games promote: respect, friendship and solidarity.

"May the serenity of the Olympic Flame silence the sound of gunfire," he said, in a statement issued on Friday.

The 2016 Olympics and Paralympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; the first time the games are being held in South America.

They will also be historic for another reason: the inclusion of the first-ever team comprised of athletes who are refugees.

The UN chief stated that the initiative will showcase the strength of refugees while reminding the world that more must be done to address the root causes of their plight.

He said "There is no greater source of exodus than conflict, and there could be no better demonstration of solidarity than to observe the Olympic Truce."

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1'00

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