French, the first Olympic language

The French and French-speaking people have played a crucial role in the organization and the development of sports. Right from the revival of sports at the end of the 19th century, they ensured a prominent, sustainable place for the French language in the international sports movement.


Founded on the initiative of Pierre de Coubertin, a French, the International Olympic Committee is still highly influenced by the francophone tradition. Article 24 of the Olympic Chart makes French language the first official and historical language of the IOC, then enjoying precedence over the other languages in the sports world. Of course, English was by its side, the Anglo-Saxon historical contribution to sports being fundamental, especially with the creation of some new disciplines.

After Pierre de Coubertin died, French has kept standing as the official language of the IOC. After the Second World War, Siegfried Edström, IOC President, did not want to compromise with the French language. In November 1948, he wrote these words: “Even if the English translation is bad, we have to get the original text and we must not try to come up with any new text that French would have not accepted”.

Precious moment for the celebration of universal values of sports and peace between peoples, Olympic and Paralympic Games are guided by three fundamental values: excellence, friendship and respect. The difficult aspect of the French language makes it shine internationally as a language of excellence, often used to speak about love, and whom the use of “vous” expresses the quintessence of respect. We have so much to share!

Pierre de Coubertin (January 1st, 1863, Paris – September 2nd, Geneva), born Pierre de Frédy, Baron of Coubertin, was a French historian and pedagogue who resurrected the Olympic Games at modern era.

Dernière modification : 03/03/2017

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