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Charest will help push for more French at Olympics

 

KEVIN DOUGHERTY, The Gazette

Published: 7 hours ago

 

Premier Jean Charest will be in Beijing on Aug. 9, the day after the official opening of the Olympics, at a rally of heads of government and ministers from the 55-member Franco-phonie, lending support to the use of French at the Olympics.

 

Amadou Diouf, secretary-general of the Francophonie, and Jacques Rogge, Belgian doctor and president of the International Olympic Committee, will co-chair the event.

 

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who will also attend the opening ceremonies, will be at the rally, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not.

 

Clément Duhaime, who seconds Diouf as administrator of the Francophonie, told reporters yesterday that while French and English are the two official languages of the Olympics, in recent Games, the position of French has not always been respected.

 

This time, in addition to the rally of Francophone leaders, the Francophonie has an agreement with the organizing committee for the Beijing Games to ensure French is used in announcements. The agreement also calls for translation of Olympic documents and the hiring of 40 translators and French-language journalists, as well as training for "several hundred" Chinese volunteers as guides at French cultural shows during the Games.

 

"This is the first time we have gone so far," said Duhaime, a former Montrealer who was previously Quebec's representative in Paris.

 

kdougherty@thegazette.canwest.com

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