You may have noticed while tuning into the sport that you’re about to become an expert in, that all of the announcements are first in French, then in English and finally in Portuguese. This is because the official languages of the Olympic Games are French and English, in that order. Behind this rule is the founding member of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and “father” of the modern Olympics, Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin. Founded in 1894 in Switzerland by Coubertin, the first modern Olympics took place two years later in its ancient birthplace, Athens. To have the official languages of French, English and the host nation’s official language used together was seen as a way “to promote openness and dialogue through linguistic and cultural diversity”.
Although many more people across the world speak Chinese or Hindi, a higher number of ‘countries’ are able to speak English and French, meaning the message can reach a much wider audience. Of course, the host’s official language is always spoken too, in this case Brazilian Portuguese, making sure that no one from the host nation misses out.