Winter Olympics Game Show the Beauty of Traditional Chinese Medicine Culture to the World
Published on 28 November 2022

The opening ceremony of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games took place at Beijing National Stadium on February 4th. Athletes from all over the world would show the Olympic spirit during this game. The 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games is a key task listed in China’s 14th Five-Year Plan, and holding the this Game is an important opportunity to showcase China’s national development and national spirit.

According to the consent made between the Organizing Committee of the Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games 2022 and CACMS, CACMS took the lead in setting up Chinese Medicine Culture Space in the Main Media Center with the guidance of the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (NATCM). Traditional Chinese Medicine would be showcased for the first time during the Olympic Games in the form of exhibition. It would present a rare opportunity to introduce Chinese Medicine culture to the world. The Main Media Center, was the headquarter of the world’s registered media and broadcasting units during the Olympic games. It is capable of accommodating over 3,000 reporters and photojournalists, and about 12,000 broadcasting staff from major media units around the world. Chinese Medicine Culture Space was located here, and the content of this space mainly devided into 5 parts as follow, “one nobel prize, two items the Memory of the World Register, three pieces of world intangible cultural heritage, four surveys on Chinese materia medica resources, and five experiencing programs”. 


A Nobel Prize Shows the Contribution of Traditional Chinese Medicine to the Mankind

In the first part of this exhibition, the Nobel Prize, the world’s most influential award for scientific and technological achievement, interprets the contribution of Chinese medicine to mankind. Entitled “Artemisia annua: a rejuvenating grass”, this is based on Tu Youyou’s Nobel Prize award, introducing the process of discovering artemisinin in plants, and interpreting the contribution of ancient TCM culture and modern science and technology to human health. In this part, the process of artemisinin discovery and Tu Youyou’s Nobel Prize are introduced in the form of videos. The physical exhibits include Tu Youyou’s Nobel Prize, Lasker Prize and the State Preeminent Science and Technology Award, which are the most representative awards for China’s biomedical industry. These underscore the significance of TCM culture and the importance of scientific and technological innovation. At the same time, the process of artemisinin discovery and the molecular equation of artemisinin were displayed in the form of motion graphics (MG). 3D printing-based objects of plant Artemisia annua were displayed in the cabinet. The use of Artemisia annua, a humble grass, demonstrates that “TCM is a great treasure trove”, and also abundantly shows the significant contribution of TCM to human health. 


Two items from Memory of the World Register represent the contribution of TCM to the world 

TCM literature and classics are the window to show the development of TCM and an important component of the world’s cultural heritage. Two Chinese Medicine classics, Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon and Compendium of Materia Medica, were inscribed in the Memory of the World Register in 2011. The two classics are introduced in the forms of pictures, text and physical objects in the Chinese Medicine Culture Space. Through the two classics, it introduces to reporters around the world the TCM literature and classics as well as their contribution to world literature. Compendium of Materia Medica, a pharmaceutical monograph written by Li Shizhen of the Ming Dynasty, covers many fields such as medicine, botany, zoology, mineralogy, chemistry, etc. British biologist Charles Darwin called the book “an encyclopedia of ancient China.” The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon is a work that laid the groundwork for the theoretical system of TCM, which was written during the Warring States period over 2,200 years ago. This book systematically summarizes the practical experience of TCM in traditional China before the 2nd century BC, and reveals the outlook on life, ways of thinking and cognitive approaches from the perspective of TCM. The theoretical system and medical model established by these two classics are still used in traditional medicine and referenced in Western medicine, representing the ideal witnesses to the development of world medicine and human civilization. 

Three pieces of World Intangible Cultural Heritage represent the contribution of Chinese medicine to the world

When meeting with Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO on August 20th, 2013, Xi Jinping said that “Traditional Chinese Medicine embodies the profound philosophical wisdom and China’s well-established concepts of health preservation and practical experience. It is the gem of ancient Chinese science and the key to open the treasure house of Chinese civilization.” As a key component of Chinese culture, TCM could present the advancement of human civilization and world culture. TCM acupuncture, Taijiquan and Lum medicinal bathing of Sowa Rigpa have been successively inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, marking Chinese medicine recognized by the world.

In the Culture Space, acupuncture and Lum medicinal bathing of Sowa Rigpa were introduced in detail by means of video and physical exhibits. Taijiquan is the chief interactive experience item, which is displayed in combination with artificial intelligence (AI). Visitors can practice Taijiquan using AI. Lum medicinal bathing of Sowa Rigpa refers to knowledge and practices concerning life, health and illness prevention and treatment among the Tibetan people in China. It is the continuation and development of traditional Tibetan medicine theories represented by the Four Medical Tantras in contemporary health practice. It was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2018, TCM acupuncture in 2010, and Taijiquan in 2020. 

Four surveys demonstrate abundant Chinese materia medica resources 

The practice of Shennong tasting all kinds of herbs in ancient times laid the foundation for the development of TCM. It is also the earliest recorded survey on Chinese materia medica resources. An official survey on Chinese materia medica resources was carried out regularly since the Tang and Song dynasties, producing outcomes such as Tang Materia Medica. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the central government organized four surveys on Chinese materia medica resources. In this section, the fourth survey on Chinese materia medica resources and achievements are introduced through videos, maps and plant specimens. In the fourth survey on Chinese materia medica resources that started in 2011, more than 50,000 professionals visited 95 percent of the counties and districts nationwide to conduct a national survey on materia medica resources, and found over 13,000 kinds of Chinese materia medica resources that can be used and 3,150 varieties medicinal plants unique to unique. Nearly 100 new species have been discovered. 60 percent of the 79 species studied have potential medicinal value. Representative cultural relics excavated – Chinese foxglove and Ganoderma lucidum (both replicas using 3D printing) – are put on display. Chinese foxglove is the earliest Chinese materia medica processed product unearthed from the tomb of the Marquis of Haihun in Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province in 2016. Its remains were unearthed from the M1 coffin chamber. Ganoderma lucidum, unearthed in Tianluo Mountain in Zhejiang and other sites, is the earliest Ganoderma lucidum found to date, indicating that Chinese people began to use Ganoderma lucidum 6,800 years ago. 


Five interactive experience items showcase TCM culture

In the Chinese Medicine Culture Space, five TCM culture experience items are set up according to the characteristics of TCM culture for visitors. The five items include AI-based Taijiquan experience area, 24 solar terms query area, bronze acupuncture figure and meridian query area, unique diagnosis and treatment system query area, and query area for use of TCM around the world. 

“AI-based Taijiquan” is a natural interactive digital training platform that meets the needs of different people, which was developed by the team composed of members from Zhengzhou University and CACMS Intelligent TCM Science and Engineering Technology Research Center based on Chen-style Taijiquan. Based on the combination of high-definition panoramic display and man-machine two-way natural interaction, it employs pattern recognition and AI to capture the joint points of the human body in real time for intelligent evaluation of Taijiquan movement and posture, rhythm and changes in force. Then, it produces a learning report and comprehensive score. 

In the 24 solar terms query area, it reveals the relationship between the 24 solar terms and TCM-based health preservation based on a summary of knowledge on the 24 solar terms, and a computer program is made accordingly. Visitors can learn about the characteristics of each solar term through this program.

In the bronze acupuncture figure and meridian query area, Chinese medicine culture is introduced in the combined form of traditional culture and modern science and technology. The acupoint query system collects data on human body using high-precision scanning technology, and then displays the information through big data-based visualization to reveal the mystery of the human body. Visitors can inquire about meridians and acupoints of interest to them on the screen.


In the unique diagnosis and treatment system query area, modern technology is combined with the characteristics of TCM-based treatment, where visitors can have an interactive experience. Here, visitors can acquire knowledge of the unique diagnosis and treatment system of TCM, including the four ways of diagnosis (look, listen, question and feel the pulse), and learn about featured TCM therapies, including cupping, tuina massage, acupoint application, splintage, and bone-setting therapy.

In the query area for use of TCM around the world, the high-tech interactive screens show the spread of TCM in the world, from the ancient Silk Road to the modern Belt and Road Initiative, including the spread of TCM via the ancient Silk Road, the use of TCM in 196 countries and regions, foreign legislation on TCM, the Belt and Road overseas TCM centers as well as international cooperation and exchanges carried out by the CACMS. Reporters from all over the world can inquire about the development of TCM and relevant legislation in their own countries. 

The Chinese Medicine Culture Space also introduces the use of TCM in the treatment of the COVID-19 and the history of fight against epidemics over more than 2,000 years. The use of TCM in the treatment of the COVID-19 and its achievements were introduced in detail through videos. According to the introduction, when the COVID-19 epidemic erupted in early 2020, Chinese medicine workers, in response to the call of the Chinese government, formed an emergency medical team to fight the epidemic. High-level TCM experts were sent to fight the epidemic in the affected areas. Through the observation and analysis of patients, the experts summarized the pathogenesis of the epidemic. As a result of scientific summary and induction, TCM workers developed “three drugs and three prescriptions” with outstanding efficacy, and formulated systematic treatment methods for patients in different clinical categories, which has been included in the Guidelines on the Novel Coronavirus-Infected Pneumonia Diagnosis and Treatment. The intervention of TCM has reduced the mortality rate of COVID-19 patients and the number of mild patients who may become critically ill patients. It is a key force that has contributed to China’s remarkable achievements in the COVID-19 response. The “Three drugs and three prescriptions” are displayed in the form of exhibits, accompanied by detailed introduction. 

To better spread Chinese medicine culture, the exhibition specially produced cultural and creative exhibits, including nine kinds of refrigerator stickers featuring Chinese herbal medicine, five TCM-themed bookmarks, one set of five-animal boxing dolls, five elements-based seals and folding pages that introduce Chinese medicine culture. It allows more than 10,000 journalists from all over the world to learn about the Chinese medicine culture through different forms of exhibition and experience. The exhibition was organized by the CACMS in concert with Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Holdings, Guangdong E-fong Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Zhangzhou Pien Tze Huang Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., and Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. under the guidance of the Organizing Committee of the Winter Olympic Games and the NATCM. The exhibition would take place from January 4th, 2022 to the end of the Games. It is expected that more than 5,000 journalists around the world will visit this area.. 

(From the website of China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences)