Agreement signed for use of French at London 2012
Friday, 25 May 2012
May 25 - The use of French at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has been agreed at a ceremony here at the Sport Accord Convention.
An agreement was signed between London 2012 chairman Seb Coe (pictured below, left) and Michaëlle Jean (pictured above) on behalf of L'Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).
The organisation is a collection of French speaking nations and Governments, representing more than 890 million people worldwide.
The official language of 32 countries, French is also the main language of Québec.
Gilbert Felli (pictured below, second right), the executive director of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), witnessed the signing of the agreement.
Of the event, Coe said: "I am delighted to be here at this very special gathering.
"Our two languages share between them a large area of common linguistic ground...as the official languages of the Olympic movement.
"We welcome visitors from around the world," he added, saying that Lonodn 2012 would be ensuring the "correct use of French during the Games".
The agreement sets out that French must be used in signs, verbal announcements, documents and internet communications.
Both languages will be used in competition and accredited zones, as well as in official announcements from London 2012, including press conferences.
A French version of the spectator guide will be added to the London 2012 website and made available for download.
Eleven translators and two moderators will also be deployed for London 2012's Facebook page to help ensure social media communications are available in both languages.
The modern Olympic movement was founded by a Frenchman, Pierre de Coubertin – with French and English being the two official languages of the Olympic Charter.
According to the stipulations set out by the IOC, all sessions must be provided in French, English, German, Russian, Spanish and Arabic – the languages of the United Nations.
The Charter also says that "in the case of divergence between the French and English texts of the Olympic Charter and any other IOC document, the French text shall prevail unless expressly provided otherwise in writing".
All city bids must agree to these regulations when applying to host the Olympics.
As the federal Government of Vancouver discovered when they were forced to spend an extra $7.7 million (£5 million/€6 million) in order to provide bilingual communication during the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2010.
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Pictures by Aleksandra Sersniova