From Ms Diana Darke

Sir, The coincidence of the start of the Sochi Winter Olympics with the start of a three-day ceasefire and delivery of humanitarian aid to Homs (letter, February 7 and “Evacuation begins from Homs”, February 8) is of course a wonderful thing, but the situation does have certain curious ironies that deserve to be highlighted.

Syria’s Phoenician site of Amrit, near the coast 8km south of Tartous, boasts the world’s earliest known stadium, dating to the 15th century BC. Its dimensions of 220m long by 30m wide make it almost identical to the dimensions of the stadium in Greece’s Olympia, which it predates by several centuries. Syria is therefore the true home of the earliest known competitive games. Since nearby Tartous is also home to Russia’s only Mediterranean naval base, maybe President Vladimir Putin would like to pop over and take a look for himself, while he is in an “Olympic” frame of mind. He would be quite safe, as that part of Syria is totally regime-controlled, unlike the rebellious Homs.

Diana Darke, London SW15, UK

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