Annan says U.N., Olympics share same ideals
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United Nations and the Olympics share the same ideals -- tolerance, equality, fair play, and most of all peace, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message Thursday.
"Together, the Olympics and the United Nations can be a winning team," he said. "But the contest will not be won easily. War, intolerance and deprivation continue to stalk the earth. We must fight back. Just as athletes strive for world records, so must we strive for world peace."
Annan praised the International Olympic Committee for reviving the ancient Greek tradition of the "Olympic Truce," calling for all hostilities to cease during the Sydney Games.
"I join the United Nations General Assembly in urging all those at war to observe the Olympic Truce," he said. "This may sound unrealistic. But as any athlete will tell you, nothing happens without a dream."
The secretary-general said there is increasing interest in the power of sports to promote a culture of peace, and he praised the establishment in Greece of the International Olympic Truce Center under IOC auspices.
"Let us all now enjoy this inspiring spectacle, and let us sustain the momentum of peace and goodwill so admirably set in motion," he said.
The secretary-general will be represented at the opening of the games by Sergio Vieira de Mello, his special representative in East Timor, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
The U.N. flag will fly in Sydney and two U.N. representatives will run in the Olympic Torch relay.
In addition, following a request to the secretary-general, the International Olympic Committee authorized several East Timorese athletes to compete as individuals, under the Olympic flag.
Following a referendum last year to break its ties with Indonesia, the United Nations is administering East Timor in its transition to independence.