Olympic Truce and Sports Diplomacy: a Panel Discussion at JCU

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Mario Pescante and Lars Rensmann discuss Sports Diplomacy

Dr. Mario Pescante (left) wtih JCU Prof. Lars Rensmann (right)

On Wednesday, November 18th, John Cabot University hosted the panel discussion “Olympic Truce and Sports Diplomacy,” with Dr. Mario Pescante, the International Olympic Committee’s Ambassador to the United Nations. Sponsored by the Department of Political Science and International Affairs, the panel featured JCU professors Lars Rensmann and Alberto Schepisi.

“Sports represent the most concrete means to overcome barriers, divisions, and conflicts,” said JCU President Franco Pavoncello in his introduction. Professor Schepisi then introduced Dr. Pescante, who has had a long career in sports administration. President of the Italian National Olympic Committee from 1993-1998, he has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1994, and served as its Vice-President from 2009 to 2012.

Dr. Pescante presented the Olympic Truce, which the United Nations General Assembly approved in a resolution last October for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Dating back to 700 B.C.E. in Greece, the truce ensures the safety of athletes and spectators during sports competitions. The UN resolution also contains concrete incentives to educate new generations on the positive values of respect and tolerance represented by sports.

“The best response to those who want to terrorize us is to continue with our daily lives, otherwise we are admitting defeat,” said Dr. Pescante, referring to the recent attacks in Paris. “For this reason, Rome is a candidate for the 2024 Olympic Games.”

According to Pescante, the Olympic Truce is a message of peace and respect that goes straight to the hearts of athletes all over the world. He described the numerous times sporting events, and the Olympic Games in particular, have acted as catalysts for peace and important tools of diplomacy. In conclusion, Pescante showed an image of a US Marine and an Afghan youth playing soccer together, as an example of how sports can build bridges.

The panel discussion was featured in numerous Italian media outlets. Read coverage of the event by Rai Sport and Agenzia Giornalistica Italia.