Sharing Chinese culture with the world

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Zhangjiakou Medals Plaza showcased many of the art works produced by the "Cheer for the Olympics" program during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. WEI XIAOHAO/CHINA DAILY

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics impressed the world not only through the thrilling sporting action and the host's fantastic organizational work, but also thanks to the charm of Chinese culture which was showcased via a variety of art exhibitions and activities.

Many of the art works, such as Olympic-themed Chinese calligraphy and painting that were exhibited or presented as gifts to foreign friends at Beijing 2022, were the work of the "Cheer for the Olympics" program, which was established in 2017 to promote Chinese culture and, more specifically, its integration with the Olympics.

Wu Aihua, general manager of the "Cheer for the Olympics" organizing committee, is proud that his team's hard work enabled Chinese culture to be seen by more people on the international stage and that these efforts will continue in the future.

"Many of our art works were displayed at the Zhangjiakou Medals Plaza during Beijing 2022. Athletes from all over the world could see these art works when they celebrated their victories," Wu told China Daily.

"The art incorporated Chinese culture, winter sports and Olympic elements. For instance, our sketch group painted the great mountains and fantastic venues of the Zhangjiakou competition zone in the traditional Chinese style. We wanted to portray those wonderful moments in the art."

From 2017 to 2022, "Cheer for the Olympics" organized a series of art exhibitions and activities related to Chinese culture and the Games across China as well as a number of cities abroad. A particular highlight of the program was the hosting of activities in schools and local communities where artists and star athletes participated in and interacted with students and young people.

"From Pyeongchang to Lausanne and Tokyo, our artists have been recording the Olympics with their art. With these Olympic-themed art activities, people across the globe can discover more about and engage with Chinese culture," said Zhang Minxia, the secretary-general of "Cheer for the Olympics".

"Also we invited artists and sports champions to schools, so that the students could interact with them. They shared insights into not only their professions but also Olympic history and stories."

The efforts of "Cheer for the Olympics" garnered high praise from International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

"I still have fond memories from 2017 when I attended the launch ceremony of the 'Cheer for the Olympics' program in Beijing...These cultural activities and exhibitions achieved very good results," read a letter Bach sent to Wu in February.

"The art exhibitions of the 'Cheer for the Olympics' artists at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne played an important role in promoting the communication and integration of the Olympics and Chinese cultures.

"The next Olympics will be held in Paris in 2024 and I would like to encourage you to continue your cultural activities with 'Cheer for the Olympics' under the theme 'Embrace Paris' in order to promote the Olympic spirit in the lead-up to the Olympic Games Paris 2024."

Indeed, promoting Chinese culture at the Paris Games is now the next goal for the "Cheer for the Olympics" team. In April, a symposium, which was themed "Cheer for the Olympics, Join Hands for the Future", was held in Beijing.

The organizing committee of the program and a group of artists shared their thoughts on how Chinese culture can better integrate with the Olympics and influence more people, especially the young generation.

With that in mind, break dancing, which will be a medal event at Paris 2024, will be a focus of "Cheer for the Olympics" over the next two years. According to Zhang, the program, with support from the Chinese Dance Sport Federation and French Dance Federation, will stage break dancing competitions. Grassroots dancers will compete against national team members, giving them a chance to be selected for Team China.

At the same time, a series of art activities related to Chinese culture and Olympic break dancing will be staged to attract the attention of the young generation and encourage them to learn more about Chinese culture and embrace sports.

"Break dancing is trendy among the young generation, and we hope to combine this trend with Chinese cultural elements. For example, break dancing is accompanied by music, so we could create hip-hop music that features strong traditional Chinese cultural elements," Zhang added.

"Actually, the guochao, or the Chinese cultural tide — a trend representing the rise of the homegrown art style that weaves Chinese cultural elements — has become very popular among the young generation in recent years.

"In terms of art, we could combine break dancing with Chinese cursive calligraphy, which is the most informal of all writing styles. And our artists could also create a new style of graffiti influenced by Chinese traditional painting. Gradually, we can encourage more young people to embrace these sports and traditional Chinese culture."

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