By Duncan Mackay

United Nations_General_AssemblyOctober 17 - London 2012 has set a record already with 193 countries signing up to approve the traditional United Nations call for an Olympic truce, Sebastian Coe announced in New York today. 

Syria and Iran were the last of the UN's 193 member states to reply to British diplomats just before Coe put the resolution to the UN General Assembly, where diplomats applauded loudly after it passed by consensus.

Greece had held the previous record when it got 190 states behind its call for a 16-day truce ahead of the Athens Games in 2004.

Launched at the UN in the 1993, the truce resolution nearly always gets unanimous support but is not always followed.

When Beijing held the 2008 Games, Russia and Georgia were at war over South Ossetia.

"It would be folly to suggest that sport provides a complete answer, a panacea for all our social ills," said Coe in presenting the resolution.

"But it can and does help to mend broken communities, rebuild trust, rediscover self-respect, and foster the values at the core of our common humanity."

The London 2012 chairman highlighted the example of black American sprinter Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in front of Adolf Hitler, as one of the "powerful examples of sport breaking through man-made barriers of ignorance and hate."

Coe competed at the Moscow Olympics in 1980, when there had been a United States call for a boycott over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The double Olympic 1500 metres champions Games had helped "to foster understanding, and create and extend new networks of friendship, association, and opportunity across ideological and geographic divides."

Koreas marching_together_in_Sydney_2000_Opening_Ceremony
The decision of North and South Korean athletes to march together into the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics in 2000 "demonstrated the power of sport to bring people together... in a way that politicians alone could not," Coe added.

"Sport is one of those forces which can still offer real hope - both collective and individual. It has many roles -- often the quiet, deft diplomat, the hidden peacemaker, if you like."

The British resolution put special emphasis on the role of disabled athletes and the Paralympics which will follow the Olympic Games that start on July 27 next year.

"The passion and determination of Paralympic athletes is an inspiration to us all," it said.

Coe told the Assembly that Amber Charles (pictured below right with Coe), 21, who delivered London's official bid documents to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne in 2004, and Ali Mohamed, 18, who was voted the "Young Mayor of Newham", one of the London Olympic Host Boroughs, represented London's vision of the Games and for the Truce, and had asked him to deliver a message on their behalf to the Assembly.

Sebastian Coe_with_Amber_Charles_and_bid_book_2004
The message from the two young Londoners said: "The Truce helps to show the world that peace is a possibility. It shows the power that sport has to inspire unity, mutual understanding, and respect among different types of people...countries should feel an obligation to respect the Truce because it holds true to the idea that we can co-exist without the need for discrimination and fighting. It gives us something to strive towards outside of the Olympics and the arena of sport."

Other members of the delegation included the British Ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, and Paul Deighton, the chief executive of London 2012.

"I'm delighted that the Resolution has been co-sponsored by every single one of the United Nations' 193 member states," said Henry Bellingham, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who is responsible for the UN and Conflict Resolution.

"This astonishing level of agreement shows that the Olympic Truce is more relevant to more countries than ever before.

"No-one claims that conflict resolution is easy, but in line with the ideals of the Olympic Truce, we are committed to preventing and resolving conflict wherever we can in pursuit of long-term peace and stability around the world.

"For many people in Britain the idea of truce and sport is epitomised by the grainy black and white pictures of British and German soldiers playing football in the no man's land of Flanders during World War One.

"The United Nations was born from the aftermath of conflict and today the countries of the United Nations have joined together to recognise the hope for peace at the heart of the Olympic idea."

A host of world powers stood up at the assembly to welcome the truce and highlight the benefits of sport.

The event was not without doubters however.

Cuba's Ambassador Pedro Nunez claimed that "the benefits will not be available to all as long as sport remains a capitalist concept, available only to the minority."

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