With the delayed Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics as a backdrop, it’s no surprise the Czech Embassy would choose sports as the theme of its 12th Annual Mutual Inspirations Festival.
This year’s edition is dedicated to Czech gymnast and patriot Věra Čáslavská, a seven-time Olympic gold medalist, four-time World Champion and 11-time European Champion. In 1968, Čáslavská was named the world’s best athlete and the second-most popular woman on the planet after Jackie Kennedy. (Previous festivals have been dedicated, among other famous Czechs, to tennis star Martina Navrátilová, novelist Franz Kafka, composer Antonín Dvořák and filmmaker Miloš Forman.)
Čáslavská, who died in 2016, was also an adviser to President Václav Havel, president of the Czech Olympic Committee and a member of the International Olympic Committee.
“As we all aspire for continuity after the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic, our embassy hopes to once again bring a glimmer of normalcy via its public programming,” Ambassador Hynek Kmoníček said in an online welcome message. “For the 12th year in a row, the festival will focus on the mutual inspirations between Czech and American cultures and, in promotion of everyone’s good health and fitness, the legacy of a woman who we can all be inspired by.”
The festival launches Sept. 2 with the first of 10 events: the screening of Véra 68, a documentary film by director Olga Sommerová that chronicles Čáslavská’s rise to fame and her simple act of defiance against the Soviet Union during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.
One week later, on Sept. 9, the Czech Embassy will host an online conversation with author and attorney Gerhardt Bubnik on “Law and Sport: The Life Odyssey of Harvard’s First Czech Law Graduate.” Among other things, Bubnik—who became a figure-skating judge at top international competitions—will discuss his role in the 1994 Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan scandal.
Next on the calendar is Czech Ice Hockey Heritage Night, which takes place Sept. 14 at the Czech Embassy and celebrates a defining moment in modern Czech history: the country’s victory at the 1998 Winter Olympics ice hockey tournament.
Four days later, on Sept. 18, the embassy will host its Olympic Village, with participants able to participate in activities such as soccer darts, basketball shootouts, racket battles, moon bounces and more. Live music, a beer garden, food and activities for kids will also be on the agenda.
On Sept. 23, a trio of experts will discuss “Law as a Tool of Sports Diplomacy” as part of the embassy’s SportsDip series of webinars hosted by the embassy’s cultural attaché, Jan Woska. The three are Marjolaine Viret, an attorney specializing in sports and anti-doping issues Matthew D. Kaiser, a leading advocate in protecting athletes’ rights; and Jan Exner, a lawyer for the Czech Olympic Committee.
Continuing a tradition that started last year, the Czech Embassy Bike Challenge 2021 features a 19.18-km track in honor of Czech independence, which was established in 1918. The route begins at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath in Georgetown, under the Key Bridge, and finishes at Mile Marker 13 at Great Falls, Virginia.
Likewise, a Fitness Challenge is scheduled for Oct. 13. That’s when the Czech Embassy’s main hall will turn into a training facility with leading local personal trainer, coach and fitness specialist Tomas Trnka. Beginners and fitness enthusiasts are welcome to join in the powerful Work Out of the Day (WOD) and learn about the positive impact of behavior change and mental focus on their personal fitness goals.
The festival wraps up with three final events: Czech Legends and Mystical Creatures on Oct. 21, which includes a kids’ “Fright Walk” just in time for Halloween; a Czech Christmas Market on Nov. 6 that features beautiful handcrafted ornaments, renowned Czech crystal and glass products, exquisite jewelry, and toys; and finally a book talk Nov. 13 with accomplished Czech rower Daniela Nachazelova, author of “Women’s Voices in Rowing.”
For more information on the 2021 Mutual Inspirations Festival, please click here.