On Friday, January 18, 2008, Abdou Diouf, secretary general of La Francophonie, and Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who will serve as Grand Témoin de la Francophonie for the Beijing Games, met with the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge. Mr. Diouf and Mr. Raffarin officially presented the IOC president with the first convention on the place of the French language at the Olympic Games, which had been signed in Beijing by Mr. Raffarin on behalf of the secretary general of La Francophonie on November 26, 2007, in the presence of Chinese president Hu Jintao and French president Nicolas Sarkozy. According to an OIF press release “this convention—which defines the terms and conditions of agreement between La Francophonie, its member states and governments, and the Beijing Olympic Games Organizing Committee (BOGOC)—should ensure that the Beijing Games mark a major step forward in promoting the values of Baron Pierre de Coubertin regarding linguistic diversity and reasserting the role of French as an official language of the Olympics.”
During their meeting, Mr. Diouf and Mr. Raffarin informed the IOC of the results of cooperation during the past year and more between the Grand Témoin, the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) and the Beijing Olympic Games Organizing Committee (BOGOC). “The OIF and its member states and governments are very much aware of the efforts by organizers to ensure that French enjoys the presence and visibility accorded to it in the Olympic charter.” The press release also mentions that the joint actions described in the convention “will complete BOGOC’s plan of action, particularly regarding translation of the INFO2008 official platform, signage at the sites, translation into French of the main publications including the spectator’s guide, and help in recruiting the 40 translators and journalists that will be required to properly promote the Beijing Olympic Games in French.”
The press release reports that Mr. Raffarin began by describing the “plans for a major French-language event to be held August 9, 2008, as part of the official program of the Games, at the initiative of the OIF and BOGOC with the approval of the IOC.” The release goes on to say that the secretary general pointed to support for OIF efforts from France, Belgium, the French Community of Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Québec, Monaco, Burundi, Madagascar, and Senegal. He thanked francophone Ambassadors in Beijing who, headed by the Ambassador from Senegal, took action in conjunction with the negotiations by the Grand Témoin. He also informed Mr. Rogge of his intention to organize a meeting of all francophone national Olympic committees in the near future. Finally, Mr. Diouf encouraged the IOC “to continue cooperating with the OIF in preparing a place for the French language at the next Olympic Games after Beijing.”
Lastly, Mr. Rogge informed the OIF representatives that the first Youth Summer Olympic Games would be held in 2010, bringing together athletes aged 14 to 18 from around the world. For his part, Mr. Diouf announced to Mr. Rogge that the next Francophonie Games would be held in Libya in 2009.