Give peace a chance says IOC chief on Olympic Day

June 23 is the anniversary of the founding of the IOC in 1894.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach attends the final day of the 139th IOC Session at Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland, May 20, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach attends the final day of the 139th IOC Session at Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland, May 20, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Despite a war between two important countries for the Olympics, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach sounds a hopeful message in his observance of Olympic Day 2022.

“Sport always builds bridges and brings people together in peace and solidarity. On this Olympic Day, please join us as we call on everyone around the world: give peace a chance,” says Bach.

His optimism for sport as a peacemaker comes at a challenging time for the IOC and the Olympics. The war against Ukraine by Russia will render years of complications for the IOC given the prominence of both nations in the Olympic world.

Along with the IOC president’s customary remarks, Olympic Day is observed worldwide with fun runs and other events organized by NOCs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with graduates of military academies on the eve of the 81st anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in World War Two in Moscow, Russia June 21, 2022. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with graduates of military academies on the eve of the 81st anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in World War Two in Moscow, Russia June 21, 2022. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

It is notable this year both websites for the NOCs of Russia and Ukraine are devoid of notices for the usual observances of Olympic Day in June. But the date has not been forgotten in Ukraine.

Olympic champion Oleksandr Abramenko congratulated his fellow countrymen and countrywomen in a video posted by the Ukraine NOC on June 23.

Abramenko won silver at Beijing 2022 and gold in PyeongChang 2018 in freestyle skiing. Since the assault on Ukraine began, Abramenko has lived with his family in a Kiev parking garage.

In his video message Abramenko said he was happy to be part of the Olympic movement and said that “together Ukrainians are invincible”.

The IOC says more than 135 NOCs have plans for Olympic Day. The hashtags #MoveForPeace and #OlympicDay are chronicling events.

Olympic Day grew out of a proposal made in 1948 by Josef Gruss, IOC member in Czechoslovakia. June 23 was settled upon as the date, marking the first meeting of the IOC at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1894. The IOC began encouraging NOCs to organize activities for the date in 1978. The IOC has used the date to mark special events such as the grand opening of the new headquarters building in 2019.

This year however will feature no ceremonies in Lausanne, Switzerland, with the IOC Executive Board meeting virtually on June 24.

In the U.S., the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) holds its annual Olympic Assembly for the first time on Olympic Day. Hundreds of sport leaders are meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado. On June 24 the USOPC will induct its latest class for the USOPC Hall of Fame.