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"Visa Olympics of The Imagination" Highlights "One World, One Dream"


Visa International’s successful Legacy Program offers children a chance to attend the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Visa International, a worldwide Olympic partner and the official payment system of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, today announced the eighth Visa Olympics of the Imagination (VOI) international youth art competition. Visa will send 30 children from 18 participating countries to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as its guests.

The children will be asked to use their imaginations to create a drawing. As a new aspect of the program for these Olympic Games, children may either submit a computerized electronic drawing or they can use traditional two-dimensional art, if they prefer. All the art will be based on the theme of global unity: “Show how the Olympic Games connect different cultures and capture the Beijing theme - One World, One Dream.”

The VOI program began running in some participating countries in March 2007 and will run through May 2008. The winners will be announced in June 2008 and will be the guests of Visa at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in August 2008.

The 30 VOI winners will be selected from Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Speaking about the VOI program, IOC President Jacques Rogge said, “For thirteen years and through seven Olympic Games, Visa has encouraged the involvement of youth in the Olympic Movement with the full support of the International Olympic Committee. This year’s addition of electronic art is an indication of Visa’s forward-looking view. We look forward to meeting the children and seeing their artwork in Beijing in 2008, and we congratulate Visa on creating and managing this wonderful program.”

The addition of an electronic arts component reflects the changing capabilities of today’s youth. As a result, the program age group has been changed to include children between the ages of ten to fourteen years old.

“This unique program provides children of diverse backgrounds with the exclusive opportunity to attend the Olympic Games while they learn about Olympic values, view different cultures and participate in onsite Olympic Games activities,” said Tom Shepard, executive vice president, Global Marketing Partnerships and Sponsorship, Visa International. “We are pleased to add an electronic component to this program. Visa recognizes the Internet as the fastest growing entertainment and educational medium among youth. It is a powerful and exciting way to raise awareness of Visa’s Olympic Games sponsorship and it provides yet another means of providing children a way to participate in the thrills of the Olympic Games through art and learning. Visa is proud to once again be sponsoring this one-of-a-kind program.”

The program was launched at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Over the past seven Olympic Games, VOI has seen over one and a half million school children submit an original piece of art based on selected themes. Since Lillehammer, two hundred and fifty-six young artists from 47 countries have attended the Olympic Games as guests of Visa.

The winners of the program and a parent or guardian will attend the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as the guests of Visa in Beijing, China, from 7-12 August 2008. While at the Olympic Games, they will attend a number of Olympic Games events and activities, will participate in cultural activities and will have the opportunity to sightsee and explore Beijing.

Program information including artwork of past winners, and periodic updates on artwork submissions and classroom activity from around the world can be found at

Visa expects hundreds of thousands of entries for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games VOI competition. Judging will be based on originality, imagination, artistic merit, and how well their art communicates the theme, “Show how the Olympic Games connect different cultures and capture the Beijing theme - One World, One Dream.”

The young VOI winners will have their winning artwork displayed as flags at a number of locations throughout Beijing during the Games and featured on screen savers, postcards and other materials. Individual countries will also hold displays of the artwork locally.

One top Visa Olympics of the Imagination “Grand Prize” winner will be selected in Beijing based on artistic merit. That child will earn a special trip for two to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vladimir Oratovskyi, age nine, from Kiev, Ukraine, was chosen Grand Prize Winner during the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games and will accompany this program’s winners to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

The program will be promoted through multi-tiered marketing and public relations campaigns worldwide, integrating extensive in-school outreach, with cross promotions involving National Olympic Committees and Visa member financial institutions and their merchants.

Contest Materials

Contest entry forms and posters will be distributed to banks, schools, and/or by Olympic organizations in participating countries. In most participating countries, in-school materials will feature a teachers’ guidebook that combines the history and images of the Olympic Movement and Olympic Games with creative in-class exercises.

History of Art and the Olympic Games

Originally, the Olympic Games were as much a matter of art as athleticism, with poets, musicians, painters and sculptors competing for medals alongside athletes. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Movement, was keen to revive the link and in 1906 awarded gold, silver and bronze medals for five artistic competitions. Because of the two world wars, these contests were held only sporadically until 1949, when they were dropped altogether and replaced by Olympic cultural programs.

Visa’s Olympic Games Sponsorship

Visa began its Olympic Games sponsorship in 1986 and since then has sponsored five Olympic Games (Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, and Athens) and six Olympic Winter Games (Calgary, Albertville, Lillehammer, Nagano, Salt Lake City and Torino). In Beijing, Visa continues its Olympic sponsorship role as a Worldwide TOP Partner (TOP) and the exclusive card and the official payment system for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will be held from 8-24 August 2008. Up to 10,500 athletes from 204 nations will compete in 302 events in 28 different disciplines. The Games are expected to draw over 3.5 million spectators in Beijing with tens of millions more watching via television worldwide.


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