Sochi 2014: Setting the Stage for International Peace

It's that time of the decade again -- the winter Olympic games debuted last Friday in Sochi, Russia. Although Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala will not be represented by winter athletes these 2014 games, citizens from all countries can reflect on the values for which the Olympics stand. The Olympic Truce was derived from the ancient Greek tradition of the ekecheiria in the eighth century BC "to encourage a peaceful environment and ensure safe passage, access and participation for athletes and relevant persons at the Games, thereby mobilizing the youth of the world to the cause of peace", explained the United Nations Organization of Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP). The UN Assembly has called on all member states to observe the Olympic Truce throughout the Sochi Winter Games.

Even if a country is not represented in the Winter Olympic Games this year, peace is an idea all countries can stand behind. In an effort to really promote international cooperation, as conflict has become a recurring theme in recent years in the international system, the International Olympic Committee aimed to make this a very memorable games, with input and support from many different countries.

The traditional torch relay, always an impressive feat, was the longest in history this year, both in distance and in time it took to complete. Carriers from 160 nations participated in the passing of the torch between October 7th and the Opening Ceremony. The torch even made its inaugural visit to the International Space Station! The tour took 123 days to complete, covering over 165,000 km. "I think the key phrase is international cooperation", responded astronaut Rick Mastracchio when asked about the significance of the torch making its way to the ISS. "Both the Olympics and the International Space Station are great examples of what folks can do when the countries get together and try to accomplish something", Mastracchio added.

The Winter Games are off to an impressive start, and although Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Ecuador will not be making an appearance these winter games, MPI is looking forward to cheering on Ecuador in the World Cup this coming summer.