The Games People Play
Snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg won the first gold medal for America by winning the challenging Sochi slopestyle amidst snow-covered peaks of the Caucasus Mountains.
Sochi Takes the Center Stage
Following the grand opening of the Winter Olympics, Sochi has become the center of attention.
Sochi is a Russian city located on the Black Sea Coast, close to the Georgian/Abkhazia border. The city has prepared rigorously for the Winter Olympics for the past few years. During such mega events, participants, officials, medial persons, and many travelers arrive in the city, where it takes place. A lot of efforts are put in place to organize accommodation, food, telecommunications, transportation, recreation and of course communication through translation.
The Matter of Language
Proficiency in the local and other predominant languages that participants speak in is one of the deciding factors for the smooth going of such sporting events. Be it interpretation of formal speech during the opening ceremony, or saying a few sentences to welcome the participants, translation is a must. When thousands of people are gathering to watch various events, the knowledge of different languages helps in every possible situation of communication. It could be related to giving directions, understanding other’s requirements, or helping someone during a medical crisis. Considering the importance of language, the authority in Sochi organized English lessons for taxi drivers, wait staff and others in order to communicate with the visitors and help them. Even the police, who are responsible for the safety and security of the visitors, have been trained to converse in three different languages. Those languages are English, German, and French.
During the event, not only does the local authority take initiative to teach foreign languages for organizational success, visiting teams and media also hire interpreters who can speak the local language.
The Language Action Plans for Sochi
Understanding that they have a huge task at hand in terms of handling different languages, organizers and International Olympics Committee (IOC) has chalked out some structured plans. They are below:
Forming Translation Forum – To gauge the preparation of Sochi to understand and speak different languages, IOC held the first-ever, Olympics translation forum called ‘Sochi 2014: Translation Issues.’ More than 600 professional linguists and interpreters were part of it. The goal of this forum was to find solutions to have a strong translation support structure during the Games.
The outcome of this forum has been:
1.There are about 1,000 professional interpreters who will be available at the game venues to help athletes, spectators, and officials with their language needs.
2.There is a call center in place that takes queries and provides information in English, Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Korean and Russian. The call center operates 24x7 to give complete assistance.
3.A special mobile application has been launched for smartphones that will provide the latest updates on the event in the seven languages mentioned above.
Three Official Languages – This Olympics has declared three official languages, which are English, French and Russian (the local language). These languages are used on the official Sochi Olympics website and in other marketing materials. Also, referees, judges, doctors, and law enforcement officials will speak in these three languages.
The Winter Olympics is set to engage the fans across the world on social media in seven languages.
The areas mentioned above can’t give the complete picture of the complex language translation work being undertaken by the Sochi organizers. Communicating with millions of international visitors in various languages needs high level of proficiency. Besides volunteers, numerous professional translators have been hired for proper communication. Therefore, language services have already taken the podium in this gala event!