High Expectations for Qitian Chen, a New Champion for Olympism

April 01 17:36 2020

At the invitation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), young pianist Qitian (Oliver) Chen gave a dazzling performance at the Lausanne Olympic Museum on January 24 to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year. It’s the second year the IOC has organized such a thematic event featuring China.

IOC President Thomas Bach wrote Qitian on March 3 to express appreciation for his “marvelous performance”, noting it “highly impressed all of us present.”

A tenth grader from Hotchkiss School in the United States, Qitian has keen interest in both music and sports. His shared skills in fencing brought him into conversation with President Bach, who was an Olympic gold medalist fencer in 1976 and is a tireless advocate for the sport.

Qitian’s performance of Franz Liszt’s famous Rhapsody No. 6 won applause from Mr. Bach and the audience. Qitian’s musical talent has brought him dozens of top prizes both at home and abroad. In addition to the Gold Medal in the Steinway Youth Piano Competition and the Imola International Piano Competition in Italy, he also earned championships in China National BOYA Piano Festival and Best musicality award from María Herrero International Piano Competition in Spain.

Pinning an Olympic badge on his suit, Mr. Bach encouraged Qitian to carry on and spread the principles of Olympism. “It’s a definite YES!” Qitian assured him. “I also love the Olympic watch Mr. Bach presented to me.”

Praising him as “an excellent young man”, the letter reiterated Bach’s charge to Qitian, stating “I hope you will continue to promote the Principles of Olympism to the world: Create a better way of life by blending sport with culture, education and international cooperation.”

Since childhood, Qitian has been deeply involved in charity work. Recently he has supported an ethnic student from a poor region to pursue college education in Beijing, and donated prizes he won – a brand new piano and a substantial cash award – to a primary school in Guizhou province. Now, Qitian is all the more inspired. “I feel the expectation from the IOC,” he said. “I have every reason to promote the Principles of Olympism.”

With the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, Qitian lost no time to visit local pharmacies in Switzerland, purchasing medical supplies and shipping them to the Wuhan Red Cross.

“You’ve got to work even harder,” said his father Chen Guangbiao, a renowned Chinese philanthropist who has made generous donations to numerous disaster relief programs at home and abroad. “I expect more good news from you – higher grades, stronger muscles and more service to the community.”

Though never short of aspirations, Qitian is taking bolder actions. He championed support to Wuhan, where COVID-19 first massively broke out, by launching the Led by Youth program via social media. With his father as an invisible helping hand, he also donated cases of face masks to schools, hospitals and police stations in his community. “I love my teachers and schoolmates. Police officers, doctors and nurses are more likely to be exposed to the virus. They need the right protection,” said Qitian.

The “Led by Youth” campaign, which successfully raised RMB4 million in just one month, is being transformed into a nonprofit organization with continuing philanthropic activities. On its agenda, a local music festival is planned to promote the Principles of Olympism.

Undoubtedly, for a young man, an inspiring word from someone he respects can mean a lot on his path of growth.

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