OLYMPIC OPENING CEREMONY

Carrying the Flag for Peace and Justice at the London Olympic Games.

"At 18 minutes past midnight the Queen declared the games open and I jumped as fireworks exploded all around, stirring memories of war. We were told to start walking and the rhythmic beating of the drum seemed to be in time with my heartbeat. I looked around, taking in the sounds, the smell, the amazing atmosphere, aware that I was walking with giants. As we tipped the flag towards the Presidential box our names were announced over the tannoy and I heard ‘Sally Becker, Goodwill Ambassador for Children of Peace, we salute her courage.’ I could not have been more proud.

 

Slowly we made our way towards Mohammed Ali who, like us, was dressed from head to toe in white. My heart went out to him for he could barely stand and he looked so frail as he tried to grasp a section of the flag, but the Olympics is about triumph of the human spirit and he epitomises that. As we stood alongside him people began chanting ‘Ali, Ali,’ and their voices reverberated throughout the stadium.

 

While the anthem was sung the flag was raised and I thought of the athletes who had died in Munich; politics have no place at the Olympics which is about Nations coming together. On 17 October 1992, the UK sponsored a UN Resolution on the Olympic Truce entitled "Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal". In an unprecedented show of support, all 193 UN Member States signed up to the ideals of peace and conflict resolution and the premise that individuals, not countries, compete against each other in peaceful competition without the heavy burden of politics, race and religion. There is ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, Syria is imploding, Israel is burdened by the constant threat of war, the Palestinians continue their struggle for a homeland and there are rumblings in Europe. But for those fleeting and tremulous moments our nations did come together and they did put politics aside and for a while at least in the heart of London there was a sense of the way things could be."

 

Sally Becker

© Darren Fletcher

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