Acting on behalf of secretary general of La Francophonie Abdou Diouf in Beijing, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, senior observer for the Francophonie to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games signed the Convention for the Promotion of the French Language at the XXIX Olympic Games on Monday, November 26, 2007, along with the president of the Beijing Olympic Games Organizing Committee (BOGOC), Liu Qi.
The convention between the International Organization of La Francophonie and BOGOC aims to support the efforts of Chinese organizers to ensure the use and visibility of the French language in the run-up to the Olympics and during the Games themselves, as per Rule 24 of the Olympic Charter. The OIF press release states that in addition to setting up a cooperation committee made up of representatives of states and governments from the Francophonie and BOGOC, the convention sets out a series of measures to ensure a place for and the visibility of the French language, such as making French-speaking interns available to translate the Olympic Games website, translating the official information platform, putting up French-language signposts, translating BOGOC’s main publications (including the spectator guide), identifying translators and interpreters for the Games, and supporting the implementation of French cultural events. OIF notes in its press release that “respecting French as an official Olympic language is a response to the need to preserve linguistic diversity throughout the world, a commitment that the Francophonie has signed up to alongside other international linguistic communities.”
The press release states that the signing of the convention, which was held at the China People’s Palace in the presence of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President of the People’s Republic of China Hu Jintao, as well as a number of ambassadors from French-speaking countries, took place following BOGOC’s visit to Paris with a view to recruiting journalists and translators for the French version of the “Info 2008” interactive platform. OIF remarks that the group of francophone ambassadors in Beijing led by Senegalese ambassador General Papa Khalilou Fall “reiterated the desire of OIF states and governments to organize a number of French cultural events during the Games.”
The press release also notes that Jean-Pierre Raffarin is the third person tasked by the secretary general of La Francophonie to ensure that French is respected as an official language of the Olympic Games after Hervé Bourges at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and Lise Bissonnette at the 2006 Turin Olympic Games.