Olympic Festivals - The project the Czech Republic has brought to the world is ready for a new era during Tokyo 2020



Sport, emotions, enthusiasm – this is what the Olympic Games bring, and much more. For athletes, the Games represent the pinnacle of their sporting careers and for fans they provide an unforgettable experience. Despite the travel restrictions that prevent international fans from visiting Tokyo during the Games, the Czech Olympic Committee, and a record-breaking number of other countries, will use the Olympic Festivals project to create an engaging, memorable and truly magical atmosphere for fans.

“After returning from the London 2012 Games, which were visited by hundreds of Czech fans, and with the Czech House full of great energy, it was expected the same number of Czechs would not travel to Sochi two years later for the Olympic Winter Games, with the distance alone a major obstacle,” said President of the Czech Olympic Committee Jiří Kejval as he describes the beginning of the Olympic Festivals project. “We wanted to bring the atmosphere of the Games home, to help the fans experience the Olympic Games as if they were almost at the actual venue in person.”

So in 2014, the first Olympic Park called Sochi–Letná was set up in the large park area in the centre of the capital city of Prague. Two years later, for the Rio 2016 Games, it was followed by Rio–Lipno Park at the popular holiday resort in the south of the country

“After our experience, we believed that the Olympic Festivals project had international potential, so the Czech Olympic Committee applied for an Erasmus+ Sport grant in 2015. We were therefore able to prepare a detailed manual for the organisation of Olympic Festivals around the world within the Sport Parks Inspired by the Olympics project – in cooperation with the National Olympic Committees of Italy, France, Belgium, Slovenia, Croatia and Finland,” said Roman Kumpošt, Vice-President of the Czech Olympic Committee.

The potential of the event was acknowledged by the International Olympic Committee, which adopted the idea of Olympic Parks and in 2017 presented the Olympic Festivals project. During the Olympic Games in PyeongChang in 2018, Olympic Festivals took place in the Czech Republic and also in four other European countries under the IOC’s central license and with Olympic graphics. “We are proud to have been at the actual birth of the project,” said Jiří Kejval. “Our mission is to spread Olympic values and ideals within our society, and to promote sport as part of a healthy lifestyle, especially amongst children, and the Olympic Festivals help us do so.”

Olympic values at the heart of the Festivals Since 2014, Olympic Parks/Festivals in the Czech Republic have been visited by more than 1.2 million fans who have been able to try 80 different sports there. This year, it will take place in ten other countries around the world for the first time, including Australia, the Netherlands and Slovakia. In the Czech Republic, the Czech Olympic Committee will organise Olympic Festivals in two places at once, in the two largest cities: Prague and Brno.

“Olympic Festivals have a completely new goal this year, and that is the return of children to sports,” explained Libor Varhaník, Vice-President of the Czech Olympic Committee. “We have prepared a really wide range of activities. There will be 47 sports to try in Prague and 32 in Brno, often with the assistance of Olympians. Children will also receive information from the relevant sport associations about the nearest sports club.”

This year’s ambassadors are two leading athletes, who are both Olympians and mothers – a bronze medallist from Rio 2016, tennis player Lucie Šafářová, and an Olympic champion from Beijing 2008, sport shooter Kateřina Emmons. “The Olympic Festivals project is a great way for me to share the Olympic atmosphere and keep in touch with both athletes and fans. I also hope that together we can make children play more sports, especially thanks to the suburban camps that will actually be part of the festivals for the first time this year. I am very happy that children will be able to experience their little Olympics,” added Lucie Šafářová.

Great emphasis will also be placed on education. That is why an entertainment/education zone focused on Olympic symbolism and values has been created, which will be partially dedicated to the attractions of the Tokyo 2020 Games. “It was actually children themselves who inspired us to create an Olympic educational project. When we asked them about the Olympic Games, the only thing they often knew about them was that they exist,” described Naďa Černá, the manager of the project. “We used a lot of great materials from the IOC’s educational project “Olympic Values Education Programme”, added a Czech element to it and eventually approached the renowned illustrator Lukáš Urbánek, who created our two main guides, Eda and Ola.”

In various short videos, the cartoon siblings Eda and Ola introduce children to Olympic values such as respect, friendship and fair play. Visitors to the zone will find all the information and videos in displayed indoors and also on the outside walls.

Emphasis on sustainability Sustainability is another important part of the Olympic Festivals project. A TOP partner of the IOC, Visa, has now joined this important topic. Therefore, VISA EKO zones will be created both in Prague and Brno, where in cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic and the Czech branch of the United Nations, various possibilities for recycling sports equipment will be presented, as well as other workshop activities for the public. “Due to its leading role in the field of sports, the Czech Olympic Committee wants to address this topic and inspire not only Czech professionals and the general public, but also commercial partners and sports institutions to take an initiative in this area,” said Libor Varhaník.

The visitors will be able to try Paralympic sports at the Olympic Festivals. Moreover, a special day for seniors is now under preparation, as well as a number of exhibition performances by top athletes. Another big attraction will be the welcoming of Olympians back directly from Tokyo during the course of the Games. There will be great importance placed on the safety of the whole event. The entire team of organisers and visitors will be COVID-19 tested and the maximum number of people allowed on the premises will be strictly adhered to.

The Olympic Games are a global event and the Olympic Festivals offer the possibility of local activation. At the same time, they help spread the ideas of Olympism to all corners of the world, which, at a time when foreign fans cannot attend the Tokyo Games, is yet another dimension of the whole event.

For more information please contact Veronika Linkova, linkova@olympic.cz

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