why do they speak french in the olympics

Les Jeux Olympiques de Londres? The opening ceremony of the London Olympics held many surprises, not least the Queen parachuting in. But one surprise that had some Londoners scratching their heads was the official announcements being made first in French and only then in English. At first sight this does seem odd, given this year s Games are taking place in an English-speaking country. In fact, the International Olympic Committee uses both French and English as its official languages. So all Games feature these two languages as well as a third в the host country s official language в if necessary. The use of these two languages as the official languages of a competition will be familiar to anyone who has sat through the, willing their favourite entry to avoid the dreaded nul points.


But why is the French announcement made before the English in an Anglophone country? Well, it seems because the IOC said so. The committee is, after all, based in Lausanne in Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland. What s more, the founder of the IOC and father of the modern Olympics was a Frenchman,. He saw the Games as an embodiment of noble ideals with a role in promoting peace and cross-cultural understanding. In addition, he believed the competition itself, the struggle to overcome opponents, was more important than winning:
L important dans la vie ce n est point le triomphe, mais le combat, l essentiel ce n est pas d avoir vaincu mais de s Гtre bien battu.


Perhaps English speakers should bear this in mind, and this time be content with second place? If you ve been watching the official ceremonies at this year s Olympic Games in London, some of the announcements might have surprised you. "Why are they repeating every sentence in French? ,Б you may have wondered. "The Games are in London, not in Paris! " You would not be alone. Few people know that French is, along with English, an official language of the Olympic Games. As Rule 24 of the Olympic Charter stipulates, БThe official languages of the International Olympic Committee are French and English. Б Theoretically, every sign, announcement and official document of the Olympics should be available both in English and French.


Rule 24 of the Olympic Charter stipulates, БThe official languages of the International Olympic Committee are French and English. Б At the origin of this rule is the Baron Pierre de Coubertin, a Frenchman considered by many as the founder of the modern Olympic Games. Born in 1863, Coubertin believed that "Organized sport can create moral and social strength. "1 He was deeply inspired by ancient Greece and the importance of physical education in Greek civilization, and advocated creating an international forum for sports, which would promote peace between peoples. Baron Pierre de Coubertin Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Switzerland on June 23, 1894.


The first Summer Olympic Games took place two years later in Athens, Greece, with French as one of the official languages of the event. To Coubertin, this was a way to promote openness and dialogue, notably by guaranteeing linguistic and cultural diversity. Since then, however, the equal use of French and English during the Olympics has not always been strictly observed. In order to ensure that Rule 24 is respected, the Secretary General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, the pre-eminent body of the French-speaking world which includes 75 states and governments, appoints a special representative during each edition of the Olympics to ensure that French is effectively used.


For this year s games in London, the "grand tцmoin de la Francophonie," or the Francophone world s "Grand Witness," is Michaцlle Jean, UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti and former Governor General of Canada. "We are not here as policemen, we re here in a spirit of partnership," she told French radio station RTL. Seventy-two delegations are representing French-speaking countries at the Olympic Games this year, and many journalists are on the ground there, updating the world s 220 million French speakers on the Olympic tradition that Baron Coubertin first began. 1 Pierre de Coubertin, LБEducation en Angleterre (1888).