Why is French spoken first at the Olympics & not English?

During the Olympic opening ceremony a lot of people on Twitter were asking why everything was in French first & not English. Well the BBC have this answer about it:

Why is French the first language of the Olympics?

At the opening ceremony, all the main speeches were first given in French, followed by English.

But why? Is it because French is still considered to be the language of diplomacy? For centuries, political delegates from around the world learned to speak French.

French is the first language of the Olympic movement – which is based in the French-speaking city of Lausanne – in honour of Frenchman Baron de Coubertin, who developed the modern Games in the 1890s.

Many have argued that English should be the first language. One letter writer to the Daily Express newspaper noted that it was only after Baron de Coubertin saw the revived modern Olympic Games in Much Wenlock, Shropshire in the late 1800s, that he was inspired to bring the Games back to France.

Of course, some say the first language should be Greek.

So French being the first language of the Olympic movement is the reason although it’s good to finally see Much Wenlock mentiond as it’s sort of the forgotten 1st Olympics since the ancient Greeks!

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8 Comments

  1. English is not really the world language… Even here in the USA. English, which was first colonized by the English and Great Britain, was never officially declared the national language. We don’t have an official one set. French is still widely used around the world. A plethora of places in Africa have French as the official language. France itself and some other European countries have French as the national language too, like Belgium and Switzerland. Quebec and some other parts in Canada also speak French fluently and regularly, however I’m not sure if it’s actually declared the national language there. I believe English is the national language declared in Canada but I have many friends in Quebec that say everything there is mainly in French/French Canadian.

    No French is not as widely used in the world as some other languages, but it is hardly dying. The Olympics are very traditional so they are probably sticking with the original as mentioned in this article above. Plus you have to think of the nations that actually compete and participate in the Olympic games. English is the second official language of the Olympics. Out of all the countries that participate French and English might be the most commonly used by participants. IE There might be more French and English countries that participate than say countries that speak Spanish, Arabic, or so on. (And then of course they add the language of the actual host country as a third language so they can cover just about everyone)

  2. According to the history of the Olympic Games, and if you want to be fair, we all have to accept what I think is the reality: the first language spoken at the Olympics should be the Greek

  3. What ever tradition is keeping some guy speaking French for over 30 mins,( when the majority of the world uses English as the dominant language),
    to close the Olympic ceremonies needs to be changed.

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