„The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should uphold the historical Olympic ideal for peace by holding a moment of silence on August 6, the 76th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima,“ says Mr Tadatoshi Akiba, former Mayor of Hiroshima and former President of Mayors for Peace.
‘The Olympic truce was inseparable from the Ancient Olympic Games, and has been reaffirmed in principle by the IOC and the United Nations,’ said Mr Akiba, speaking at a press conference earlier today. ‘Since Japan is the hosting country this time, the peace–oriented emphasis of the Olympic Games leads us naturally to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two symbol cities of peace worldwide.’
Indeed, the fact that over 8000 cities around the world have joined Mayors for Peace, the global network of peace cities led by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, demonstrates the symbolic and actual leadership of these cities for global peace and disarmament.
The IOC announced on August 1 that it would not hold a moment of silence on August 6, in response to a request from Hiroshima City and an organization of atom bomb survivors (see Tokyo Olympics not to observe moment of silence for A-bomb victims, Kyodo News, Aug 1, 2021). This is supposedly in line with the IOC policy not to allow or facilitate political protests at the Olympics, which some athletes are already challenging. (See Despite IOC Restrictions, Team USA Athletes Are Protesting at the Tokyo Olympics, Time Magazine, Aug 2, 2021). However, the call for a moment of silence is different.
‘A moment of silence on August 6 would not be a protest,’ said Mr Alyn Ware, Director of the Basel Peace Office and Member of Peace and Sport, who also spoke at the press conference. ‘It would be a non-political, dignified and respectful way to uphold the Olympic Truce ideal and mark the significance of the Olympic Games being held in Japan.’
‘During the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, this ideal was embodied in the Korean Olympic peace initiative, a diplomatic initiative starting with joint North/South Korea women’s ice hockey team that opened the door to North-South Korean and Korean-USA summits, and the start of a peace and denuclearisation process for the Korean Peninsula,’ said Mr Ware. ‘It would be entirely appropriate for the IOC to mark the Japan Olympics with a solemn and dignified moment of recognition of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and the leadership of these cities for global peace.’
This opinion is supported by over 16,000 individuals who have signed an appeal organised by Mayor Akiba, and over 120 organisations who have endorsed an appeal organised by Beyond the Bomb supporting the call for an Olympic moment of silence on August 6.
“We joined this effort because so much of our own work is guided by the inspiration of the hibakusha,” says Yasmeen Silva from Beyond the Bomb, which organized the US-based sign on letter. “A moment of silence at the Olympics would acknowledge not just the loss of those lives but of the incredible work – and empathy – of the survivors in looking beyond their own pain toward the goal of ending the threat of nuclear war for everyone.” (See 120 groups join in call for Olympic moment of silence).
„There is still time for the IOC to change its mind,“ says Mayor Akiba. ‘The IOC and the Japan Olympic Committee were able to change overnight their plans for in-person spectators at the Olympic games once it became apparent that having such spectators would exacerbate the covid infection rate amongst athletes and Japanese citizens. The IOC could also respond overnight to our appeal to mark August 6 with a dignified and respectful moment of silence.’
‘However, if they don’t, perhaps some of the athletes themselves will undertake their own moment of silence at 8:15am on August 6th, the time of the detonation of the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima,’ concluded Mayor Akiba.