International Olympic Committee Vice President Yu Zaiqing awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal to Cui Jingzhe in Beijing on Tuesday for the Chinese artist's efforts in spreading the Olympic spirit through art.
The medal was inaugurated in 1997 and named in honor of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, to recognize those who promote the Olympic spirit. Cui is the youngest artist to earn this honor, following in the footsteps of his peers Han Meilin, Fan Yang and Lyu Junjie.
Cui, 41, who is also the art director of the "Cheer for the Olympics" series of cultural exhibitions, is known for his series of magnificent paintings of ancient ladies dressed in striking red dresses. During Beijing's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and when it eventually became the host city, he carried forward the Olympic spirit through art and paintings, deeply integrating traditional Chinese culture and Olympic elements to show the world China's understanding of the Games and its winter sports culture.
In 2019, the "Chinese Red Light-on 2022" exhibition — the first overseas stop of the "Cheer for the Olympics" series — was held at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. On display were dozens of paintings by Cui Jingzhe. The artist also created three paintings depicting how the Olympic flame was lit in ancient Olympia using a traditional Chinese fine-brush painting style.
At the award ceremony on Tuesday, Cui received the medal and also presented another Winter Olympics-themed painting, titled "Leap," to the public, donating it to the "Cheer for the Olympics" series. The artist said that the painting of a ski jumper would send best wishes for Chinese athletes to leap to their best results in the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games. "It is the duty of us young artists to create artworks using traditional Chinese artistic skills to tell the world's sports stories and promote the Olympic spirit."
Cui will continue to create Olympic-themed artworks and promote the Games in arts exhibitions across China as well as the country's school campuses, enriching and improving Olympic culture.
Yu Zaiqing, also vice president of the Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee, congratulated Cui and said in his speech that the medal for Cui Jingzhe was to award the young artist for his continued participation in the Olympics and creating art that conveys the Olympic spirit. He added that the core value of the Olympics for more than 1,000 years since ancient times has been advocating against war and for peace. "The most important significance of what we have done has been peace," he said.
The countdown to Beijing 2022 is well underway, with the city set to host the XXIV Olympic Winter Games from Feb. 4-20 and the Paralympics from March 4-13.