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Did you know that French is one of the official languages of the Olympics?
Prior to the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics (August 5 – August 21), I did not know this. I thought perhaps it was a sportscaster blunder when I heard French on the loudspeaker at the opening ceremony in Portuguese-speaking Rio (sadly, I heard the French through my television, not in-person).
French and English are the two official languages of the Olympic Games, according to Rule 23 of the Olympic Charter. The New York Times ran a story recently about Michaëlle Jean, the secretary general of the International Organization of la Francophonie, who monitors the use of French at the games.
The founder of the modern Olympic Games was Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin, which accounts for French as the games’ official language. At the Beijing Olympics, all signs were written first in French, with English and Chinese below.
In addition to language, massive French-artist-created installations have been seen around Rio by elusive artist, JR (his pseudonym). He is the one of the first-ever Olympic artists in residence, a program which intends to “open up Olympism and its values to the widest possible audience” said the Olympic committee.
JR, a native Parisian, refers to himself as a “photograffeur.” He creates large-scale photo images around the world, including Paris.
One of his most interesting works was making the Louvre “disappear” this past May, through an illusion created by one of his photos. As stated in his 2011 TED talk, the artist’s wish is to “use art to turn the world inside out.”
The Olympics have had a fantastic showing of athletes (not just artists) from Paris, and beyond throughout France. The country has 395 athletes competing for France across 27 sports, with 228 men and 167 women. The only sport where they have no representation in 2016 is field hockey. France has had athletes at every single summer Olympics.
At the time of this writing, French athletes have won a combined total of 29 medals (7 gold, 11 silver, 11 bronze). France Info provides the best live – and recap – coverage of the events (in the opinion of this writer), both in print on their site, and on the radio station. Here’s a recent France Info article, which provides an good overview of France’s Olympic showing and achievements.
Three PSG (Paris Saint-Germain) soccer players from the women’s team are representing at the Olympics. Athletes Sabrina Delannoy, Laura Georges and Marie-Laure Delie are all in Rio to take to the pitch.
The Olympics end August 21. For Olympic fans, we’ll have to wait till winter 2018, when the Olympics commence in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Until then: Allez, allez, les tricolores!
Lead photo credit : swimmer Florent Manadou
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