Articles & Publications

Olympic Legacy: the role of the youth


Olympic Legacy: the role of the youth

International Olympic Truce Centre

Following the proposal of George A. Papandreou, Greek MFA at that time, the IOTC was established in July 2000.

Joint initiative of Greece and the IOC, turning the Olympic Movement’s commitment to promoting its peaceful principles into concrete action.

Administered by the IOC, collaborates with IOC units, governments, international and local organisations to fulfill its mission.

What Olympic Truce is

Olympic Truce is the cessation of hostilities between opposing sides for the period of the Olympic Games.

In ancient Greece, the truce could last up to nine months, so that athletes, officials, artists and spectators could travel in safety to and from ancient Olympia.

In modern times, the Olympic Movement and the International Community are striving to establish a Culture of Peace. Respecting the Olympic Truce for the 16 days of the Olympic Games is the ultimate objective in this direction.

It is a process directly related to sports and does not necessarily bring peace, but it is a tool to promote ideals that highlight the importance of the truce and consolidate its meanings.

Olympic Truce has been created to provide room for the Games to flourish.

Truce does not necessarily lead to the permanent end of fighting.

Uses sports and the spirit of fair play to promote ideals such as respect, understanding, tolerance, coexistence etc.

What Olympic Truce is not

Olympic Truce is neither an armistice, nor a purely political process. There is no guarantee that it will be respected.

Voluntary process – states submit their support willingly.

Does not bind countries legally or politically, but morally.

Its enforcement involves the values of each stakeholder.

Cannot be imposed, there are no sanctions for offenders.

No institution (UN, IOC, States or coalitions) has the power to enforce it.

No legal or political sanctions for offenders.

Its application is based on the willingness of each party to respect it.

Olympic Truce has been created to provide room for the Games to flourish.

Truce does not necessarily lead to the permanent end of fighting.

Uses sports and the spirit of fair play to promote ideals such as respect, understanding, tolerance, coexistence etc.

We do not aim at superseding international politics or organisations. We aim at creating more favorable conditions for the pursuit of peace.

Role of the International Olympic Truce Centre

When we first started out, our absolute priority was that the Truce be respected during every Olympic Games. And to that end, we used public figures who commanded strong symbolism around the world, like Nelson Mandela and a number of other heads of state.

But on the day of the opening ceremony in Beijing, in 2008, Russia and Georgia entered into a short yet deadly war. And for a whole week, while the Olympics were in progress, Moscow hammered away at its neighbor, after the latter provoked it. That was when it became clear that the goal of having the Truce respected, without tools for imposing it or sanctions/penalties for breaking it, would have to be reworked. We needed another approach.

So we decided that, while we would continue to try to see the UN resolutions respected –the resolutions that are issued the year before every winter or summer Games– by most of the member states, we would also have to expand our activities into the field of education and post-conflict societies, reaching especially young people. And we would have to do this while respecting the unique characteristics of each case, so that the ideals we represent and that promote peace through sports could take root and flourish.

In other words, we don’t just wait to see whether the Truce will be honored every two years. We are working systematically on the community level. And we are focusing on the young, so that notions like peaceful resolution of differences, tolerance for other views, tolerance for diversity in general –like faith, race, political convictions– become part of their basic value system.

• We are familiarizing post-conflict societies with the benefits of peaceful coexistence, particularly through joint sports activities

• When certain parties stand down, having secured their interests, Olympic Truce is there to give communities that have just emerged from war/conflict hope and a prospect of peace: to use sports to bridge the gap in the wake of hostilities that leave behind hatred and stereotypes that sometimes seem insurmountable

• In that sense, Olympic Truce can be considered a platform for peace – a (soft) power to achieve socio-political goals through the promotion of sports ideals

• In terms of political (functional) theory, we create low intensity initiatives/policies that create a conscience of friendlier coexistence and serve as the basis for more critical developments. This culture of coexistence can be “exploited” by others foundations, such as the states themselves, international organisations etc.

Why the young generation

Open minds and souls.

Spontaneous and romantic nature.

Eager to learn and adopt new values and ideas.

Strong willingness to change the world. We count on their “rebellious” nature. Messenger of Olympic Truce ideals to their communities and multipliers of our messages.

Today’s youth are the leaders of tomorrow. They will drive our world into the new era, and we have to equip them with the appropriate values to do so!

Why education

“The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living from the dead”

Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC)

If we want to understand and live life we need to seek an education. Courses and textbooks teach us how to think logically, mathematically, and scientifically. The classroom environment teaches us how to think emotionally, rationally, and socially. Our intelligence grows out of what we know and learn.

Knowledge unlocks human potential. As we learn, we can pull ourselves out of poverty and oppression. We can take control of our lives.

Education Charts your Future

President Obama has said that “Education provides us the opportunity to discover what we are good at and what we can offer. We can then apply those skills and passions in a career. The future is full of challenges. We need to learn the sciences to cure cancer, technology to build better computers, and history to heal nations. Higher education prepares us to meet and conquer these and other challenges”.

Education Builds Character

Dr Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals”. Everyone has gifts and talents. Education teaches us how to develop those talents and uphold good morals.

How do we learn to share? How do we learn not to hit or hurt each other? How do we learn to say we are sorry? How do we learn to respect the other?

It is through education that we learn how to live and how to function in society. These simple principles are repeated from kindergarten through college graduation. Without education we lose the little rules that make living possible. We come to understand humanity through our educational experiences. We learn the basic social standards of our culture and look into the standards of other cultures. Surrounded by diverse classmates we learn together and from each other. We form relationships. We learn to work together. We learn to respect one another’s opinions. We learn how to ask questions, and most importantly we learn how to listen.

Education Brings Benefits

Education is the pathway to the future we want. Going to school or college and gaining education allows us to develop our skills and abilities. We can be more prepared for the future. We can meet the challenges of today and tomorrow with confidence. Why is education so important? Without education, as described by Aristotle, we just might not be living life.

The IOTC and the young generation

We discussed why we should choose education to approach young children and instill in them the ideals of Olympism. But it is not through traditional education that we will manage to do so. In an era where information travels at the speed of light and technology has become an integral part of our everyday lives, we need to speak their language, but this is not enough... We need US to become a part of their everyday life, using innovative programmes, we need to involve them and help them understand in practice how an idea becomes a way of life. But we also need to involve key partners in this effort, such as the Olympic family organisations, academia and young researchers/scholars like you. We also need to open ourselves up to a given society and let them understand that the Olympic ideals are not limited to stadiums, but are a way of life based on the Culture of Peace.

IOTC education – related activities

New Media

– Facebook / Twitter: We use the new media to attract the interest of the young generation. We try to reach them at the virtual places they hang out, be a part of their everyday life and show them that Olympic ideals can be a part of their value system. Respect for diversity can also exist on the internet. Cyber bullying is also a danger and needs to be addressed as well. Everyone may use our Facebook page and twitter account to share his or her thoughts, concerns and proposals regarding the issues around Olympic Truce and the Culture of Peace, and we certainly expect yours!

e-Game: An online interactive puzzle is being developed in cooperation with Samsung Hellas. Adolescents will have the chance to play and learn the history and the importance of the Olympic Games and Olympic Truce. The puzzle will be available on the IOTC website and on Facebook as well.

Virtual Olympic Truce Wall: Everyone is welcome to upload his photo and pledge his support by signing for Olympic Truce on the virtual truce wall. Instead of collecting signatures in a book (restricted mainly to leaders and athletes), we are creating an electronic platform, so that everyone will get the opportunity to sign for Olympic Truce. The virtual wall was developed ahead of the London 2012 Games, and it remains online for the forthcoming Games.


We are publishing books that support our educational programmes, such as Colours for Peace and Respecting Diversity, or books that can be read individually, such as A Great Tiny Olympic Champion. We use stories that can carry the messages of Truce to young children in a fun and pleasant way.

Colours for Peace: a fun way to learn about the Olympic Truce: Through images and sketches, children are introduced to the history and the values of Olympism, various aspects of Truce in everyday life, and ancient Greek mythology. A Teacher’s Guide, complementary to the book, has been created by the British Council to help teachers better enhance the learning experience.

A Great Tiny Olympic Champion: Just before the London Games, we published our book, A Great Tiny Olympic Champion. This is a story of a small child who wants to overcome his physical shortcoming and make his dream of participating in the Olympic Games come true. And he manages to do so without compromising his values. The book has become a success in Greece; many schools are calling us to present it to their students.

Respecting Diversity: This book is the basis of the Respecting Diversity programme. It relates to bullying and conflict resolution and the ability of sports to make our world a better world.

School programmes

We use a “go-to-market” strategy, by visiting schools to deliver our educational programmes. We choose to visit schools rather than inviting students to sports halls or auditoriums, because we understand that the children feel more comfortable in their own space, and therefore they are more open to learning new things there. We also cooperate with Olympians, who, as models for the youngsters, speak about their Olympic experience, our ideals, and deliver our messages more effectively. More specifically:

IMAGINE PEACE: We continue to offer our IMAGINE PEACE Educational programme to schools. During the last two school years, more than 5,500 children have attended our programme. The programme has three pillars: An interactive presentation of the history of the Olympic Games based on the Colours for Peace book, an interactive game on Olympic Games developed by Samsung, and the presentation of an Olympic Sport by an Olympian. We are glad to say that we are now going global, since we have already translated the book into English, French and Portuguese, and we will move on with other languages. We have also held a knowledge-transfer meeting with the Portuguese government, and we are ready to do so with other countries that have shown interest in adopting the programme in their educational system.

RESPECTING DIVERSITY: Working on the success of IMAGINE PEACE, we developed the RESPECTING DIVERSITY programme, which relates to bullying and conflict resolution and the ability of sports to make our world less hostile and safer. We have placed the programme under the umbrella of the Ministry of Education in order to gain access to all public schools, especially those in underprivileged areas where more immigrant families are present.

It is therefore a chance to speak to these children about the benefits of joint communities and the importance of accepting others regardless of their colour, race or religion. The programme is addressed to students aged 9-14 years and aims to highlight and address problems of “bullying”, “harassment”, racism and “conflict” in schools by promoting the principles of recognising diversity, equality of opportunity, social inclusion and conflict resolution. The programme has a global perspective and can be transferred to other countries via NOCs/NOAs.

School competition in cooperation with UNICEF Hellas: Elementary school pupils will be invited to artistically express four concepts - Peace, Tolerance, Solidarity and Truce. The Competition will commence during the coming school year (2013-14) and will run until the end of the schooterm. Awards will be given to the five best entrants and their schools. The awards will be presented at a special event with the participation of pupils, artists and Greek Olympic Medallists. The competition will be conducted with the support of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education.

Sports and Cultural Activities

“I Love Sports – Kids’ Athletics”: We are also participating for the third consecutive year in the “I Love Sports - Kids’ Athletics” Programme, coordinated by the Hellenic Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Education. Young students get in touch with classical athleticism; they learn the basics of various sports, with emphasis on the benefits they can gain through sports and Olympic ideals. Over 20,000 students attended the programme throughout the year (hats and books).

Olympic Education Day: Last April, the Hellenic Olympic Academy organised a major event on Olympic Education that was attended by more than 35,000 students and their teachers. We organised a team of volunteers that painted young students faces with the Olympic circles and the dove of Peace, so they could carry those symbols back to their communities.

Although we recognise the crucial role of the young generation, it is important to start to foster dialogue with multiple players in the society:

Debate on Peace: We organised a debate on the way we can achieve peace... Should peace be imposed or should it be inspired. It took place on the premises of the Hellenic Olympic Committee. It attracted the interest of more than 1,000 participants who crowded the auditorium or watched it via live streaming and then sent their votes on twitter.

Open discussion on Solidarity: We also hosted an open discussion on the ways we can express our solidarity, through sports, with people who are in need. The event was under the auspices of the Prefecture of Attica, region of more than 2.5 million people, and I am sure that you realise what this entails.

“The Olympic Games at the Enchanted Forest”: The theatrical play “The Olympic Games at the Enchanted Forest” is under the auspices of the IOTC. It is inspired by the history of the Olympic Games, the ideals of Olympism, and Olympic Truce as an attitude of life that promotes the welfare of humanity.

Exhibitions exploring the notions of Peace and Truce: Through exhibitions on filming, poems and paintings, we invite young people to express their approach on Peace and Olympic Truce in a more creative way. Awards are presented but the most important is that we will incorporate the best film, poem and painting into our campaigns.


We are constantly on the lookout for new synergies, because we are looking forward to working together –on a win-win basis– with organisations and individuals that share the same values and ideals with us.

International Olympic Academy: Our cooperation with the International Olympic Academy is the flagship of our synergies. Their vast experience of the Olympic Movement history and their experience in Olympic Education are very valuable to the IOTC. It is a privilege for us to come in contac with young leaders in sports, like you, and, of course, to get in touch, through the IOA, with National Olympic Academies that have expressed their interest in our educational programmes. President Kouvelos, Director Gangas, Deputy-Rector Georgiadis, and their team are very open to new projects on Olympic Truce, and I would like to thank them for this.

Hellenic Olympic Committee: We cooperate closely with the Hellenic Olympic Committee on the organisation of “I Love Sports - Kids’ Athletics” – we will see more details about this in a while. We also contributed to the setting up of the “House of Hellenes” during the London 2012 Olympic Games, and we organised a debate and several discussions on Olympic Truce with their support.

UNICEF: UNICEF is the No. 1 organisation worldwide dealing exclusively with children. We have started our partnership in Greece with the school competition we are organising, and we plan to go global by delivering educational programmes to post-conflict areas.

The British Council: Our collaboration with The British Council is of key importance, not only because of their know-how on educational programmes, but also due to their reputation as one the best educational institutes in the world and their worldwide network, which can serve as vehicle for delivering our educational programmes. We cooperate on the IMAGINE PEACE and the RESPECTING DIVERSITY Educational Programmes.

Hellenic Basketball Association/Superleague: We have also established a partnership with the Hellenic Basketball Association. Athletes from both teams put on the Olympic Truce T-shirt during warm-ups. Young children enter the stadium holding the Olympic Truce banner, and a short message on Olympic Truce is read aloud in the stadium.

There is a similar Campaign –called “A Goal For Peace”– with The Football League. Needless to say, that these are the two most popular sports in Greece which explains why we have selected them in our attempt to broaden our audience, particularly the youth.

Research Programmes and Scholarships

Good Practices Guide for trainers: We are in the process of selecting 2-3 research centres at Universities or think tanks that have experience with conflict zones and conflict areas to support us in developing the Good Practice Guide for educators and trainers who work in field missions in post-conflict societies and follow operations there. They may vary from peacekeepers and teachers to trainers, NGO members, etc. The Guide will elaborate on how and through what means they can help local societies to transcend their differences through sports activities.

Scholarships on Olympic Truce: We plan to partner with departments of world-renowned universities (Peace & Conflict Resolution, Sports) to offer scholarships on Olympic Truce. Priority will be given to students from Africa and Asia and other places where conflicts are more frequent and more intense. Upon graduation, these students will be Ambassadors of Truce and will either stay abroad or return to their countries as Messengers of the Olympic Truce values and ideals that can bring their countries closer to peace.

Social Responsibility Actions

SOS Villages / Children with special abilities: We participated in a fundraising event for the SOS Children’s Villages, an NGO that helps children who are in need, either as orphans, homeless or abused. During the event, which attracted more than 1,000 people, including representatives from 37 Embassies, we offered our IMAGINE PEACE Educational Programme and we familiarised children of different nationalities and backgrounds with the values of Olympism and Olympic Truce.

What’s more, we have also delivered a specially designed educational programme for blind and deaf children to the respective schools.

Truce Action Kits

– Our focus is on offering our assistance to post-conflict societies. We plan to initiate cooperation with NGOs –such as One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)– that have the know-how and programmes that give children access to laptops and books, to exploit their presence in post-conflict regions and participate in their programmes by offering our IMAGINE PEACE educational programme or our interactive game in their local language. It is of vital importance for us to help children heal the wounds of war by building a personality based on the values of peace, respect and friendship.


Grassroots programmes for children from (post-) conflict societies

We are developing grassroots programmes based on sport activities, for children living in conflict regions. We want to bring together children from the opposing sides and teach them the importance of peaceful co-existence, using the power of sports. In this effort, we plan to work hand-in-hand with UN Peacekeepers, providing them with all the know-how on how sports can blunt differences and become a power for peace.

Youth Camps

We plan to organise a Summer Camp in July 2014, before the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, where young participants will attend classes on the history of the Olympics, the importance of the Olympic Truce in ancient times and its perspectives in the modern era.

University Professors will deliver lectures on Peace and Sports, and Olympians will demonstrate their sports and speak about their Olympic experience. We aspire to create a global Youth Village, where youngsters will have the chance to live as “Citizens of the Olympic World” and return to their countries as Ambassadors of Olympic Truce”.

Youth Olympic Games

Youth Olympic Games are excellent opportunity for us to implement a communications campaign, trying to reach the young generation all over the world and raise awareness for our cause. In cooperation with the Nanjing Organising Committee, we will launch an Awareness Campaign on Olympic Truce.

Organise regional sporting events in turbulent areas

We plan to organise a football game with the participation of children from areas in conflict. Mixed teams, formed on a cross-community basis, will compete on the field of play, sending a strong message for Peace and Olympic Truce. The first region where this will take place is the Mediterranean basin.

Our shared objective

Your contribution would be to participate in a global network through which we will exchange ideas, experiences and know-how with the aim of developing new project that will promote Olympism and the Olympic Truce.

We need to hear your ideas. You are the next generation of leaders of the sports movement. Your ideas are very important to us. Think outside the box and share your ideas with us! We are ready to discuss any project you propose. If your project falls within our area of interest, you will be part of the implementation team, because we think we should provide you with the opportunity to gain field experience and return to your country as a true Truce Ambassador! Elaborate on things you know! Propose projects for your country! We have a special interest in areas of conflict, but bear in mind that conflict nowadays has many dimensions and does not necessarily lead to war; but it is still evident and therefore needs to be eradicated: interpersonal, religious, racial, economic, social – even genderbased conflict.

FILIS Constantinos, "Olympic Legacy: the role of the youth", in: K. Georgiadis(ed.), INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC ACADEMY, 53th International Session for Young Participants (Ancient Olympia, 11-25/6/2013), International Olympic Academy, Athens, 2014, pp.132-144.

Article Author(s)

Olympic Legacy: the role of the youth
Dr Constantinos FILIS
HOC Member
Visit Author Page

Related Posts

Olympism: The values of sport and the risks
Olympism: The values of sport and the risks

This is where it is necessary for science and ethics to be deployed together, so that the positive values of both sport and democracy can be promoted and protected, through good governance.

Olympic Games Challenges for the Youth
Olympic Games Challenges for the Youth

The Olympic Games have everything to do with challenging our youth to strive for excellence, be respectful, nurture good relationships, and have fun!

Articles & Publications


Article Author(s)

Olympic Legacy: the role of the youth
Dr Constantinos FILIS
HOC Member
Visit Author Page

Articles & Publications


Article Author(s)

Olympic Legacy: the role of the youth
Dr Constantinos FILIS
HOC Member
Visit Author Page