In 2008 at the Olympic games in Beijing, the main source of information was in five languages – French, English, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic. That gives a pretty good coverage on five continents. For 2012, London has dropped that down to the two official languages of the Olympic movement, namely French and English. That is it. If that seems a little skimpy for you, wait till you get to the ticket office. As of yesterday, ticket sales for the world’s biggest sporting event have opened and is available ONLY in the language of the host country. Only English?! Does that not sound awfully provincial for a global event, even if it is in English? What kind of a welcome is that to the rest of the world?
Complaining about bad decisions in an article is easier than taking the right ones, but the British parliament has set the budget for the event at 10.7 billion euros, almost all of it public money. Of course that is not the total cost, but we should also keep in mind that money will come in too. And on that note, we are back to ticket sales, which are the most direct source of cash we can see straight away today. And that is where the budget is to be the tightest? Gentlemen, come on. Even besides the ethical aspect of Olympic games being a global sporting event, stepping on people’s toes for something as simple as an online ticket office is counter-productive. You can have this fixed in two days, at very little cost and make people feel welcome. Or do you think you would easily hand over your credit card details to a website in a language you only more or less understand?
(Image source: London 2012)
PS If the mono-language choice does not sound very international, note that if you do not have a Visa card you can not buy tickets either… Great sponsorship deal IOC! Visa does, however, in its infinite willingness to serve, offer a workaround, if you have the time and do not mind handing them your bank details…