Experience Olympic culture with Olympian and Paralympian artists

The “Olympic Agora” cultural hub that opened on 1 July ahead of the Olympic Games includes a series of bespoke artworks created by Olympian and Paralympian athletes with exceptional artistic talents. Four of these Olympian artists will be hosting Airbnb Experiences related to the Agora and the intersection of art, sport and culture. 

Burns, an internationally recognised abstract impressionist painter, set four world records in swimming during three Paralympic Games: Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000. He then went onto establish himself as an artist, with 30 years of painting experience across 60 countries. © Gregory Burns

To bring people around the world closer than ever to the magic of Tokyo 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and Worldwide Olympic Partner Airbnb earlier unveiled an exclusive programme of over 200 Olympian and Paralympian Online Experiences on Airbnb that began on 15 July.

The Olympic Culture Experiences debut on 24 July (JST) with Paralympian Gregory Burns, who will demonstrate how sport and arts are effective grounding tools that help build inner strength, in his experience entitled “Fuel Inner Strength with Gregory Burns”. Burns, an internationally recognised abstract impressionist painter, set four world records in swimming during three Paralympic Games: Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000. He then went onto establish himself as an artist, with 30 years of painting experience across 60 countries. He will bring this unique story to the Experience. “l will share how I manage the trials of keeping my body, mind and spirit in top shape,” said Burns about his Experience. “I will challenge you to identify core rituals, which generate energy in our lives and help each of us to deal with the tests we face daily.”

© KSM, Kelly Salchow MacArthur as designer © KSM, Kelly Salchow MacArthur as designer

Kelly Salchow-MacArthur, a Professor of Graphic Design at Michigan State University, competed in the quadruple sculls at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, and now balances her passion for design and education with miles of rowing in her single.

Salchow-MacArthur will talk about Motivation in Art, and also reveal her mantras for achieving the seemingly impossible. What makes high achievers tick? How can sport and art play parallel roles in keeping us inspired and motivated? “When I was told I couldn't be an elite rower, it inspired me to go on to become an Olympian,” she said. “When I was told I couldn’t have a real career in design due to all the sports training, I started a serious artistic career and became a Professor of Graphic Design.” This Experience will also include a quick collage workshop and top five tips to get onto the path to success.

Ciara Michel as the photographer © Athletes Unlimited Melanie Page

Volleyball player Ciara Michel, who represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games London 2012, now uses photography and videography to highlight female athletes as “more than athletes” on her YouTube channel series, “The Volley Bubble”. Getting Creative with Ciara Michel is an Experience that promises to “unleash creativity”. “I was recently selected as one of six Olympian artists to display their work at the Olympic Agora at Tokyo 2020,” said Michel. “So we will discuss this Olympic Agora project, its values, and parallels between art and sport. I will talk about how creativity has brought fulfilment and purpose to my life as an athlete, and how tapping into different dimensions of your personality can enrich your life too.”

Slaven Dizdarevic © Slaven Dizdarevic

The Olympic Culture Experiences will be rounded off by Slaven Dizdarevic, who will host a journey through Olympic history, live from The Olympic Museum. Guests will be able to relive iconic Olympic moments through exclusive online access to The Olympic Museum’s invaluable collections, brought to them by Dizdarevic. The former track and field athlete, who became the first Slovak decathlete to participate in the Olympic Games at Beijing 2008, will take participants through his personal Olympic journey. “I’ll show iconic mementos and artifacts from different Games, and my personal story behind it,” he said. “Also, the connection between sport and art through historical facts and my transition to being an artist... expect a few surprises!”

Whilst fans may not be able to attend the Olympic Games in person, the launch of these one-of-a-kind Experiences is a way for people around the world to celebrate and support athletes, while feeling as close to the action as possible.

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