Pyeongchang – The Olympic is about respect, tolerance and understanding

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres was part of dignitaries who graced the kickoff of this year’s Winter Olympics on Friday in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, where he called on everyone to recognize and promote the Games’ universal message of peace and tolerance.

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Image shows Secretary-General António Guterres (left) and Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, hold a joint press encounter at the IOC office in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Speaking to journalists at the global event, Guterres said the Olympic spirit allows people from all parts of the globe to assemble with respect, mutual understanding, and to assert the values of tolerance.

In his words, “…These are the essential elements we need for lasting peace around the world.”

The UN Secretary-General said in Pyeongchang that there is a lot of attention for this message of peace, especially with regards to the present situation in the Korean Peninsula.

In this present context, he added, “…The Olympic message of peace is not local. It is universal. It’s for the world.”

He continued, “It is valued in Korea as it is valued everywhere where we struggle to try to address the many complex conflicts that we are facing.”

Mr. Guterres showered encomiums on the Winter Olympics organizers, and expressed his appreciation and pride to be at the world sports event. The UN Chief also emphasized on the cooperation between his organization and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as well as the values for which the IOC and its sister organization, the International Paralympic Committee, stand.

Part of the Winter Olympics highlights on its opening day are the cultural and artistic performances, as well as the customary parade of athletes, which was remarkably inspiring for delegates from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, who walked under one flag, carried together by a sportsperson from each team.

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Friday’s opening ceremony marked an end to the long journey of the Olympic Torch that started in November 2017. It’s last phase was championed by Miroslav Lajčák, the President of the UN General Assembly and Thomas Bach, the IOC President.

“The Olympic torch is probably the best symbol in our times in our world,” Mr. Lajčák said, outlining the commonalities between sport and diplomacy, which in his explanation, are about peace and bringing people together.

“The torch is a symbol of peace, a symbol of youth, a symbol of sport, communication, a symbol of tradition, a symbol of hope.” he added.