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
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.