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Languages and the Olympics

Why we need a multilingual Olympics

At the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games our country will be host to athletes and spectators from more than 220 countries across the globe.  We will, literally, be ‘welcoming the world’ - and its richness of languages and cultures – by throwing the ‘greatest party the world has ever seen’.

Language skills will be vital to the success of the Games, not only to overcoming the communication barriers which could undermine the efficient running of the event, but to achieving the higher aspirations we have for its legacy. Over the next few years, a major uplift in our language capability as a nation is therefore going to be key.

According to Sebastian Coe, Chair of the London Organising Committeehas, ‘London is the most cosmopolitan city in the world, constantly renewing itself, and now home to 200 ethnic communities, who speak a total of 300 languages. We want to involve all of these people and communities in delivering our Games.’

In fact, the very success of London’s bid was underpinned by its projection of itself as a global city, able to reach out and connect with the world through the vibrant cultural and linguistic resources in its population. The Games are seen as an opportunity to build on this image to boost tourism and to enhance Britain’s ‘global brand position’ for years to come.

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