Peer completes epic 3k 'Olympic Truce' walk

Peer completes epic 3k 'Olympic Truce' walk
Peer completes epic 3k 'Olympic Truce' walk

By Oliver Hotham

Tory peer Michael Bates is completing a 3,000 mile walk across Europe to raise awareness of the UN-backed Olympic Truce initiative.

Lord Bates arrived at the peers' entrance of the Lords this lunchtime after setting out for the final leg of his epic walk from the Olympic Park earlier this morning.

His marathon endeavour is an attempt to draw attention to the Olympic Truce, a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly which aims a return to the ancient Greek practice for the 2012 games in London.


The resolution aims to build "a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal".

In an interview with politics.co.uk on the completion of his walk, Lord Bates admitted it was a decision made in the spur of the moment: "I was trying to promote the Olympic Truce and raise awareness of the Olympic Truce.

"People were surprised to see me doing this on my own, knocking on people's doors for accommodation.

"It has given me a platform to talk to people; they see you're serious about it. The campaign will continue," he said.

"I don't think getting a worldwide truce is possible, that's not what I mean when I talk about the Olympic Truce. What is possible is to get people to take initiatives for peace and reconciliation.

"This could happen, for example, in Northern Ireland. I don't want to tell countries what to do, just to remind them that they signed up for the resolution. "

Having begun in Olympia, Greece, Lord Bates walked through 13 countries, including Alabania, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium, and visited three others. He met with politicians and athletes, as well as having an audience with the pope.

Lord Bates was congratulated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who praised his "epic journey", as well as Sebastian Coe, head of the Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee.

"Michael's campaign to promote the Olympic Truce has been inspirational both in the House of Lords, and to all of us at the London 2012 Organising Committee," Lord Coe said.

"The Olympic and Paralympic Games are truly global events, with athletes from over 200 nations who will be pushing beyond their personal best when they are here in London."

An Olympic Truce has been attempted before, but this is the first year that all 193 UN member states have been signatories to the initiative.

Lord Speaker Baroness D'Souza, who led the welcome party outside, praised Lord Bates for his accomplishment.

"What Lord Bates has done is remind us the days of truce are still possible," she said.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said that Lord Bates was making a huge difference.

"We now have somebody working for the Foreign Office with Olympic Truce in their job title. It can be part of Britain's legacy of the games. He's done a huge amount of positive things for the Olympics".

UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon said that Lord Bates exemplified the values of the truce, and that it demonstrated the difference that individuals can make in promoting world peace.
 

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