Pascal Couchepin and John Furlong sign convention for the promotion of French at 2010 Winter Games

    In Games first, Grand Témoin's mission extended to now also include
    Paralympic Games

    PARIS, Aug. 14 /CNW/ - Federal councillor Pascal Couchepin, Grand Témoin
de la Francophonie, and John Furlong, Chief Executive Officer of the Vancouver
Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC),
signed a convention today for the promotion of French at the Games in 2010.
    Mr. Couchepin, president of the Swiss Confederation in 2003 and 2008,
member of the Swiss Federal Council and head of the Federal Department of Home
Affairs (health, social affairs, education, research and culture), was tasked
by Abdou Diouf, Secretary General of the Organisation internationale de la
Francophonie (OIF), with supporting VANOC's efforts to ensure bilingual Games
in Vancouver and Whistler in 2010.
    The convention signed by La Francophonie and VANOC reinforces the high
standards for bilingualism set for VANOC with its government partners. It
provides for a program of cooperation that includes: assistance in recruiting
young volunteers from Francophone countries and the participation of
Francophone performers in the official ceremonies and cultural activities
associated with the Games, as well as the organization of a Francophone event.
    The convention also contains two major firsts: the extension of the Grand
Témoin's mission to include both the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the
creation of a linguistic legacy through the production of a guide that lays
out best practices for ensuring bilingualism at the Games. This knowledge will
be passed on to subsequent Organizing Committees for use at future Games after
    The convention's implementation will be monitored by a cooperation
committee comprising of representatives from the Francophone consular corps in
Vancouver, the OIF and VANOC. Mobilization of Francophone states and
governments, as well as the Olympic Movement in support of bilingual Games was
particularly noteworthy at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. It will be further
reinforced in Canada, a member state of La Francophonie, where it will benefit
from the status of French as an official language.
    This convention was signed on the occasion of the Grand Témoin de la
Francophonie's first visit to Ottawa and subsequently Vancouver, where he met
with the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honorable Lawrence Cannon,
the Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser, Francophone
ambassadors, VANOC CEO, John Furlong, and members of VANOC's board advisory
committee on official languages. He attended the board advisory committee's
second meeting, met with several Francophone consuls and visited 2010 Winter
Games' sites in Vancouver and Whistler.
    Mr. Couchepin will make a second visit to Canada in the autumn of 2009
and will be present in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Games.
    In his mission as Grand Témoin de la Francophonie, Mr. Couchepin succeeds
Jean-Pierre Raffarin (Beijing 2008), Lise Bissonnette (Turin 2006) and Hervé
Bourges (Athens 2004).

    For more information:

    Audrey Delacroix, commissioner for the French language in the Olympic
    Tel.: + 33 6 85 31 33 75 - e-mail:

    About VANOC

    VANOC is responsible for the planning, organizing, financing and staging
of the XXI Olympic Winter Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. The
2010 Olympic Winter Games will be staged in Vancouver and Whistler from
February 12 to 28, 2010. Vancouver and Whistler will host the Paralympic
Winter Games from March 12 to 21, 2010. Visit

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: PRESS CONTACTS: Organisation internationale de
la Francophonie, Anissa Barrak, head of the communication department,; Nathalie Heneman, officer in charge of media
relations, Tel. (+33) 1 44 37 32 52,; VANOC,
Sébastien Théberge, manager, national media relations, Tel.: (604) 403-2261,,

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