Athletes sign letter calling for truce in Darfur during Olympic Games

There was no peace in Darfur when Joey Cheek was winning speedskating medals at the Winter Olympics two years ago. He - and many fellow Olympians - want the violence to halt in the troubled Sudanese province when the Summer Games begin in China next month. Cheek presented a letter Tuesday signed by more than 130 current and former Olympians and Olympic hopefuls from 22 countries. Addressed to US President George W. Bush, the president of China and other world leaders, it urges the international community to do what it can to persuade Sudan to observe the ancient tradition of the Olympic truce during the Beijing Games. "My obligation, my opportunity, as long as I have a spotlight, is to be able to help those people who cannot help themselves," said Cheek, president and co-founder of an international group of athletes known as Team Darfur. "While I was competing in Torino, it was most likely that people died. People were going to die in their homes, people were driven from their homes and left for dead. And that notion offended me. "Two and half years later, we're coming up to another Olympic games, and we're still talking about this." The Olympic truce dates to the ancient games in Greece, when fighting was halted to ensure athletes had safe passage to travel to and from the competitions. Attempts to revive the truce in modern times have met with only modest success, most notably in the Balkans during the 1992 and 1994 Games. Last year, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution urging all nations to observe the truce during the Beijing Games.