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Olympics: Why do they speak French at opening ceremony?By Sophie Parsons @sophiebparsons SEO Writer - The Herald
July 19, 2021
After a long wait, the Olympics are finally back along with all the traditions that makes the games so unique.
Of course, this year will be slightly different; Tokyo is currently in a state of emergency due to Covid, and spectators are therefore completely banned from all stadiums.
Despite the lack of a live audience, billions will tune in to watch the opening ceremony on TV, and if you are doing so on Friday, you might be wondering why much of it is conducted in French, as well as Japanese and English.
As Tokyo prepares to stage its much anticipated games, here's why French is spoken during the Olympic Games.
Why do they speak French during the Olympic opening ceremony?
French and English are the official languages of the Olympic Committee.
Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin is known as the father of the modern Olympic games and was responsible for the revival and remodelling of the ancient Olympics.
He founded the International Olympic committee, and planned the first modern games which took place in Athens in 1896.
With French the language of diplomacy at the time, and likely due to Coubertin's French roots, it was made the first official language of the games, with English the second, as determined in Article 23 of the Olympic charter.
As a result, any official announcement will be made in French, English and then a third language, which is dependent on the host country.
This year, Japanese will be the third language because Tokyo is the host city, meaning all announcements will take place in French, English and Japanese.
As well as official announcements, signs and introductions are often in the three languages and volunteers are usually likely to speak at least one of these langauges.
While this is usually the case, it may differ slightly this year due to Covid restrictions, with less volunteers required due to the no spectators rule.
The closing ceremony will follow a similar framework, with official announcements made in French, English and Japanese.