IOC chief Bach says sports offers hope for Israeli-Palestinian peace

Agence France-Presse
IOC chief Bach says sports offers hope for Israeli-Palestinian peace
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach delivers a speech during the 10th edition of the "Smartcities and Sport Summit 2023" in Paris, on November 28, 2023.
Franck Fife / AFP

PARIS – International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach on Tuesday (Wednesday Manila time) said that peace between Israel and the Palestinians was possible because they have lived in sporting "co-existence for decades".

Bach said that the IOC's recognition of the Palestinian Olympic Committee in 1993 was proof that a "two-state solution" was possible, as a truce between Israel and Hamas entered a fifth day on Tuesday following seven weeks of war in Gaza.

"With regard (to) Israel-Palestine, we have one advantage addressing this situation, because we have in the Olympic movement what you would call in the political world the two-state solution," Bach said during a summit in Paris bringing together past Olympic host cities.

"We have it already for a long time — two national Olympic committees which have been living together in a peaceful co-existence for decades."

The Palestinian Olympic Committee made its debut at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, following agreements signed three years earlier between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

"This situation leaves us the opportunity to speak with both communities," Bach added, underlining that the Olympic body has "direct contact" with both national committees.

Five athletes competed under the Palestinian flag at the Tokyo Olympics two years ago. 

Bach's comments came as the fragile truce between Israel and Hamas held for a fifth day after the deal was extended to allow further releases of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners.

Hamas militants took about 240 captives from southern Israel in an unprecedented October 7 attack that Israeli officials say killed around 1,200 people, most of them civilians.

In response, Israel has vowed to eliminate Hamas and unleashed an aerial bombing campaign and ground invasion of Gaza that the Hamas government says has killed nearly 15,000 people, also mostly civilians.

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