Olympics opening ceremony viewers bemused as commentary given in French – here's why


The 2020 Olympic Games have begun in Tokyo, with flag bearers from each country walking through the stadium representing their nations. The epic ceremony has been long-awaited, after the games were postponed last year due to coronavirus. However, viewers have been confused as to why the Opening Ceremony – which is taking place in Tokyo – is being narrated in French.

One person tweeted: “Why are the Olympic announcements in French first?? Like it’s French and then Japanese and then english”.

Another said: “why do they speak french throughout the olympic opening ceremony like last time i checked this event originated in greece?? honour the origins of the game that is the reason why it even exists??”

A third added: “Trying to understand why there is French in the opening ceremonies for the Tokyo Olympics…..”

However, there is a relatively simple explanation for why French is one of the key languages used to narrate the opening ceremony.

Read More: Olympics 2021: Is it Tokyo 2020 or 2021?

De Coubertin planned the 1896 games in Athens, which was the first modern Olympic games.

And so, any official announcements during the Olympics will be made in French, English and Japanese. 

During the closing ceremony, the commentary will follow these rules, with the three languages spoken to announce what’s happening.

The opening ceremony of the Olympics is normally a star-studded display, however, this year is eerily silent.

There are fewer than 1,000 people in attendance with strict social distancing rules and signs calling on the spectators to “be quiet around the venue.”


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