Xavier Veilhan's "The Audience" is a signature work on display at the Xavier Veilhan ©IOC/Yuichi Yamazaki

An Olympic Agora has opened in the Tokyo district of Nihonbashi to celebrate the distinctive art and culture of the Olympic Games.

It takes the form of a series of art installations and has been organised by the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage (OFCH).

"In this unprecedented moment, the Olympic Agora is a symbol of determination, overcoming challenges and international cooperation; of the power of sport and art to carry us in times of crisis," OFCH director Angelita Teo said.

"Commemorating the history and enduring cultural impact of the Olympic Movement on the world, the Olympic Agora will serve as a hub for the cultivation, exploration and promotion of the Olympic values."

In ancient times, the agora served as a meeting place in Greek city states.

In the 2021 version sculptures include a special signature work entitled "The Audience" by French artist Xavier Veilhan, which depicts five human figures "gathered in sports spectatorship" rendered in the colours of the five Olympic rings.

"The sculpture is intentionally a tribute to the audience of the Olympic Games, going beyond the sporting feats that are usually celebrated and bringing the focus to non-heroic figures, to highlight the importance of the public," Veilhan said.

Spectators will not be allowed at Olympic sports events but the Agora has been adapted to ensure staff and visitor safety, in compliance with  COVID-19 rules and countermeasures. 

Visitor numbers will be limited as such.

"Victory", by Gregory Burns, is among the artwork on display at the Olympic Agora ©Gregory Burns

There are also digital events including virtual exhibitions and sessions with artists. 

These are being made available on the Olympic Agora website and the Olympic Museum's social media channels for local and global audiences.

The Agora will also feature work by Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi which documents the Japanese Olympic Committee’s attempt to use sport as part of the rebuilding process following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Kawauchi’s photographs were taken during a 2019 visit to Fukushima and are displayed in a collection entitled "What Is the Joy of the Future? Works from Olympism Made Visible".

They are intended as "a testament to the healing power of sport and the fragile and precious gifts of nature".

The displays will also include Olympic medals, Torches, costumes worn at Opening Ceremonies and some 145 items on loan from the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.

The work of Olympic and Paralympic artists in residence is also featured.

The Olympic Agora runs until August 15.