by Alexia Vlachou
ATHENS, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) — A Chinese night dedicated to the Athens Marathon was held on Thursday evening at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC) in Athens.
Greek and Chinese audience gave a warm applause to the Chinese artists who came from Beijing to hold an exquisite performance at the glass-walled Lighthouse on the eighth floor of the SNFCC.
The event was organized by the Municipality of Beijing and the Chinese embassy in Greece on the occasion of the 36th Athens Marathon that will take place on Sunday.
“Today the marathon spirit shall forge closer ties between the two ancient civilizations,” Chinese Ambassador to Greece Zhang Qiyue said addressing the ceremony.
“Art has no national borders. The cultural and national exchanges will bring us closer arousing an overflow of powerful feelings,” she noted.
Through sports and culture, Greeks and Chinese lay the foundations for new bilateral cooperation projects.
“We want in the future the Chinese Athletic Association (CAA) to have closer cooperation with the Organizing Committee of the Athens Marathon and through this collaboration to spread and promote more the marathon spirit,” Shui Tao, Vice Secretary of CAA said.
The marathon running has a rapid growth in China in the last years. In 2017, more than 230 cities organized marathon races in which more than 5 million people took part.
For the Greek part, Makis Asimakopoulos, general coordinator of the Marathon of Athens, praised the cooperation of the two parts.
“The marathon movement has grown rapidly in our country the last 10-15 years and the same happens in your country. That allows us to develop cooperation links between the Athens and the Beijing marathon and we hope that the talks made so far to be crowned with success,” Asimakopoulos said.
In addition, a photo exhibition entitled “Ice and Snow” was also held there, featuring the sites that will host the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
“The Olympic Committee, the Olympic family is very pleased that Beijing will organize the Winter Olympic Games and will be the first city in the world to host both the Summer and Winter Games,” Stelios Ageloudis, 1st Vice President of Hellenic Olympic Committee noted.
During the special Chinese Night, the audience was fascinated by the impressive costumes, as well as the flawless dancing and martial arts performances. They enjoyed also, an exhibition dedicated to traditional art and craft from the Museum of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Beijing.
“A great performance by great musicians and performers, with martial arts, dance and music. It is a very special moment that Chinese and Greek cultures meet to honor the Marathon. It is a great success to see how popular this sport is in China. We hope that after the 2017 China-Greece Year of Friendship, this relation will continues,” Lydia Koniordou, President of Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center told Xinhua.
“We can discover many things in common despite the distance that separates the two countries and we will overcome any linguistic barriers that might set us apart,” George Lymperopoulos told Xinhua after watching the cultural performance.