The Cultural Olympiad

Combining history, theatre, arts and culture is a Greek contribution that will mark these Olympic Games as well as future Games.

The return of the Olympiad to Greece after its original celebration in the first millennium before Christ and the first Games of the modern era in 1896 and 1906 is an event full of symbolism. The celebration in Athens will open a new century and a new millennium. In Greece this has given rise to the Cultural Olympiad, an initiative that will attempt to reconcile the past with the future. In the same way that the Games promote peace and excellence in sport, the Cultural Olympiad, promoted by the Ministry of Culture of the Hellenic Republic, will expand universal knowledge of civilizations all around the world through ceremonies, exhibitions, plays, and other cultural events.

The Cultural Olympiad is celebrated over the four years between the Games.

“The Cultural Olympiad has given added value to the Athens Olympic Games 2004. It is a new international institution jointly founded by the International Olympic Committee, the Greek Government and UNESCO. The added value is the continuation of this institution to other Olympic Games: Torino, Beijing and beyond. The Cultural Olympiad is not just a collection of cultural events, but rather its institutionalization beyond Athens 2004”, explains Minister of Culture, Evangelos Venizelos.

Evangelos Venizelos, Minister of Culture
The Cultural Olympiad’s agenda has been filled with many events since 2001, but its activity will increase as the Games approach. For example, until the month of June, The Museum of Mediterranean Antiquities, in Sweden, is exhibiting the show MYCENAEAN FLAVOURS. The exhibit has already made stops in Chicago and Birmingham, Alabama. It combines archaeology with natural sciences and presents the results of a research program that discovered the diet of an ancient Greek village.

In Japan, in the museums of Tokyo and Kobe, from May to September, there will be a show on the expeditions of Alexander the Great towards the East, the expansion of Classical Greek Culture and its impact on other civilizations.

Music will fill the air from July 5-11, 2003, in Athens, Thessaloniki and forty other places throughout Greece with the celebration of a festival of sacred music. In December there will be a music festival in the ancient stadium of Delphi and artists selected from the winners of the Dimitris Mitropoulos International Competition will perform the “Opera of the Earth”.

In theatre, on June 26th, the day when Greece turns over the presidency of the EU to Italy, the “Trojan Women-Hecuba” will be represented in Rome, with Irene Pappas directing the Italian, Spanish and Greek co-production of the two tragedies of Euripides.

The Literature of Constantine Cavafy will travel from Alexandria, Athens, Thessaloniki, and Istanbul between the months of June and October to commemorate the 140th anniversary of his birth and the 70th of his death. The art of writing will also be celebrated with the participation of ten first-class authors in writing a novel together. This novel will be published daily on the Internet and in the press.