The Olympic Games are a tremendous opportunity to promote culture and Olympic education.
In accordance with the Olympic Charter, Organising Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs) organise a programme of cultural events that serve to promote harmonious relations, mutual understanding and friendship among the participants and others attending the Olympic Games. It also includes events in the Olympic Village, symbolising the universality and diversity of human culture as well as events in the host city.
The cultural programmes become veritable cultural Olympiads with events that span the different arts over the four years leading to the Games to culminate during the Games themselves.
In addition, the IOC supports OCOGs for the promotion of their education programmes that are implemented during the four years leading up to the Games.
Olympic Youth Camp
An OCOG, with the authorisation of the IOC Executive Board, may, under its own responsibility, organise an international youth camp on the occasion of the Olympic Games.
From a historical perspective, the Youth Camp tradition was born at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, when King Gustav V invited 1,500 boy scouts to set up their tents near the Olympic Stadium, primarily to assist in the organisation and conduct of the Games.
These camps, supported by international organisations dealing with education and youth (UNICEF, UNESCO, etc) and Olympic Movement institutions such as the International Pierre de Coubertin Committee, espoused similar objectives: educate young people through sport; promote cultural exchanges and foster international cooperation; share the Olympic spirit; develop in young people an understanding of, and respect for, different cultures; and promote knowledge and understanding of the historical, geographical and cultural background of the host city and country.
The youngsters who take part in these camps can attend the Olympic Games opening ceremony as well as selected cultural events and sporting events. They also take part in workshops with Olympic themes (eg dance, drama, art) as well as in discussions on Olympic issues. This experience provides the participants with a sense of empowerment, a global network, life long friendships and an increased overall understanding of the Olympic Movement.
Olympiart is a symbolic award that serves to remind the Olympic Movement of the place art has in its midst. Painting, architecture and music have been honoured, with recipients including of Hans Erni, Pedro Ramirez Vázquez and Mikis Theodorakis - all prestigious artists who have a strong interest in sport, peace and youth.
The Olympic Games as a platform for comprehensive programmes
The Olympic Games play a central role to implement Olympic education programmes for a wide range of youngsters – be it through activities on a national level or through initiatives by OCOGs of past and future host cities. In China, the biggest Olympic education programme in history was implemented in his country in the run-up to the Beijing Games.
Some 400 million children from more than 400,000 elementary and secondary schools benefitted from Olympic education, which was integrated into the regular school curriculum. The set-up of an Olympic Education System in China is one important legacy from the Games.
London spot on
The London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) has the same ambition in regard to reaching out to young people. The day London received the flag during the Closing Ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games was the starting signal for "Get Set", the London 2012 domestic education programme. A new interactive "Get Set" website can be found at www.london2012.com/getset.