Interpreting for Beijing Olympics by decree


									                      Interpreting for Beijing Olympics
                                  Wang Lidi, Zhang Jie

  (Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation, Beijing Foreign Studies University)

Abstract: 2008 Summer Olympic and Paralympics were extraordinary events, posing significant
challenges to China’s interpreting community. The paper, based on interviews and surveys,
presents a landscape that the faculty member, the students and the alumni of the Beijing Foreign
Studies University (BFSU) and the Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation of the BFSU
teamed up to interpret for the Games, and created a new model for a university to serve the
Olympics. While presenting experience and achievements, the paper also proposes areas for

Key words: interpreting; Beijing Olympic Games, volunteer

China did a top-notch job in language services in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Paralympics,
during which, Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) and the Graduate School of Translation
and Interpretation (GSTI) of BFSU played crucial roles in making the events truly global
celebrations. With its Multi-lingual Service Centre (MSC), BFSU created a new model for a
university to serve the Olympics. GSTI, with its students and faculty members majored in
conference interpretations, provided professional language support for the Games.

During pre-Games time and Games time, the BFSU contributed 3,000 interpreters who, both as
volunteers and paid professionals, got involved in a wide range of language services and training
programs. Among those 3,000 interpreters, around 200 were faculty members, graduate students
and alumni of GSTI.

Olympic Games are linguistically complex. It had been broadly thought prior to the Games that
language communication would be one of the biggest challenges, for the country had never had
anything like the Olympics with so many people coming from different parts of world, speaking
so many different languages. China’s interpreting market didn’t have a long history. Although it
had been dramatically developing after China’s WTO accession, it was not sophisticated enough
to support such a big event.

Furthermore, Beijing, unlike Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 or London 2012, would have its unique
problems in language services. Australia not only is an English-speaking country, but also enjoys
well-developed community interpreting. Sydney 2000 was able to use its multicultural society to
provide interpreting services in a variety of languages. (Anthony, 2003) Greece is a European
country where English prevails and French and German are also used. That is a comparative
advantage to Beijing. London 2012 Chair Sebastian Coe said, “London is the most cosmopolitan
city in the world, constantly renewing itself, and is now home to 200 ethnic communities who

speak a total of 300 languages. We want to involve all of these people and communities in
delivering our Games.” (Collis, 2007)

For many years, Mandarin Chinese had been handicapping foreigners in China, because it was
hardly learned or spoken outside China and its neighboring countries. Meanwhile, English and
French (the two official languages of the International Olympic Committee) did not so prevail in
China as in western countries. This is why China’s interpreting community had to make greater
efforts in bridging the language gap than its western counterpart. Given the diversity of language,
the scale of the Games and the limited budget, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games
of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) wanted access to huge reserves of volunteer interpreters and the
best professionals.

BFSU and the Multilingual Service Centre
As one of the leading foreign studies universities in China, BFSU was bound to play a crucial role
in the Olympic language services. The BFSU now teaches 43 foreign languages, outnumbering
those taught at any other university in China. It has more than 10,000 students studying on campus,
including 1,000 international students and about 600 faculty members (teaching staff both Chinese
and expatriates).

Challenges also mean opportunities. The BFSU decided to use the 2008 Olympics as an excellent
platform to get as many as its students engaged in interpreting practice, and to create a volunteer
culture on campus. In recent years, how to enable university education to meet the needs of
society had been heatedly debated in China. Universities had been seeking various internship
opportunities for their students, while restructuring their curriculum over time. The Beijing Games
was what the BFSU wanted.

The biggest challenge for Olympic interpreting is that scores of different languages are expected
to be spoken but it is hard to immediately establish a big enough talent pool for every language.
The stereotypical view that ‘everyone speaks English’ has become entrenched even within
Olympic Committees for the Organisation of the Games (OCOGs). (Paulin, 2009) During Good
Luck Beijing 2007—series of Beijing Olympic test events, BOCOG received negative comments
on the language services. For one thing English-Chinese interpretation should be improved, for
another, Olympics—the biggest global sports celebration, should be more multilingual.

The BOCOG decided to get the BFSU involved in its Olympic interpreting programme, given that
the latter is the biggest source of lingual talents. The International Relations Department (IRD) of
BOCOG and the BFSU co-launched the Multi-lingual Service Centre (MSC) for the Beijing
Olympic Games on July 7, 2008, a month before the opening ceremony. The Centre aimed to
provide “barrier-free” interpretation and translation in 44 languages, almost all languages used by
Olympic participants, and was expected to create a legacy for communities—a permanent
institution for BFSU to continue to provide language services and to facilitate the multi-language

Multilingual Service Centre

As a product of cooperation between the BOCOG and the BFSU, the MSC served as a new model
for a university to contribute to the Olympics. BOCOG-IRD located the Centre in a separate
building on BFSU campus instead of in the Village, so that it could concentrate volunteer
interpreters and translators from BFSU and other universities in one place, which was easy for
collaboration and coordination. The administrative staff came from the BFSU and the IRD. Even
the Olympic News Service (ONS) of BOCOG had once moved its office to the MSC building
before the Games.

The MSC, operating three programmes—Volunteer Programme, Observer Programme and
Interpreter Programme, recruited around 500 volunteer students, 300 volunteer teachers and scores
of paid professionals. Those 300 teachers together with international students served as operators
for the Multilingual Switchboard, an idea borrowed from Sydney 2000.

The Switchboard was established specially for IOC and BOCOG officials, Olympic athletes and
delegates. It offered telephone interpreting in 44 languages, including around-the-clock lines in 10
languages (English, French, Russian, German, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and
Korean) and 18-hour lines in 34 languages, even covering some rarely spoken languages such as
Icelandic, Sinhala and Hausa.

The Switchboard was ready for competition venues, non-competition venues and service venues,
helping with on-site language obstacles that could not be handled immediately. For example, the
Linguistic Services Venue Manager (LSVM) was given Switchboard cards in different languages
(in any event each venue had a designated person in charge of Linguistic Services). If a Russian
athlete was in trouble and could not find a Russian-Chinese interpreter on spot, he/she could turn
to the LSVM. Using the phone card of Russian category, the LSVM would dial the operator
speaking Russian. The operator would interpret for the LSVM and the athlete. Or if the venue staff
or interpreters meet technical problems, they could also turn to the LSVM for Switchboard help.

The Switchboard even received a call from an LSVM that a foreign lady complained hotel laundry.
Another case was that a reporter lost his passport and asked the MSC to help him translate a
certificate to the police station. Although these issues seemed to be trivial, well handling them also
reflected qualified services.

Apart from the Multilingual Switchboard, the MSC prepared an emergency interpretation team
who could go to venues immediately on demand of LSVMs to help with language obstacles. The
team was also available for media, reception, transportation and medical care whenever language
support was necessary. Therefore, the MSC was considered a “last resort” by venue staff.

The MSC enabled the call service program of Beijing 2008 to accommodate a wide range of
languages. During the Olympics (July 24—August 28, 2008) and the Paralympics (August
30—September 16), it received and responded to more than 3,000 calls, 2095 for the Olympics, of
which 471 were in Spanish, accounting for 22.5%, 438 in Russian, accounting for 21%, and 424 in
French, accounting for 20.2%, and 852 calls for the Paralympics.

About 500 MSC volunteer students were deployed in around 20 venues and the ONS offices,
serving as interpreters and translators. Some outstanding students were hired by the Olympic
interpretation team as deputy LSVMs. Some were hired by the BOCOG as translators of previews
and reviews of each day’s sports competition, press conferences and flash quotes, biographies of
competitors, historical and other factual information about the Olympic Games, and news releases
from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the BOCOG.

The MSC, with its excellent and efficient language services in the summer of 2008, was well
recognised by the Olympic Family. On September 25, as an institution, the MSC was awarded by
the BOCOG and the China Translator’s Association (CTA) for “outstanding contribution” to the
Beijing Olympics and Paralympics. Professor Chen Lin, advisory of the MSC, was granted the
same honour. He had taken an active part in the activity—Come on, let’s study foreign language.
He had been invited by many community centres to give lectures to Beijing locals on English

Prior to the Games, the BFSU had carried out numerous training programmes for its students and
the volunteers from other universities and institutions. BFSU students, equipped with good
linguistic competence, had been given extended training on culture, history, economy, politics, etc.
In addition, as one of the training bases for Beijing Olympic volunteers, the University extended
English language training programs to nearly 30,000 volunteers and hosted English language tests
for more than 10,000 volunteer drivers. Besides, the University trained 609 volunteers (551 from
BFSU) for the IOC Division of International Relation Dept. of BOCOG.

Besides 500 MSC volunteers, 2,500 BFSU undergraduate and post-graduate students served as
volunteer interpreters. They were deployed in 31 competition venues and several non-competition
venues. 567 of them acted as Olympic Family Assistants (OFA)—taking care of IOC officials,
VIPs and officials from Olympic committees across the world, representing 62% of the OFA team
of 901 university volunteers (See Figure1). They are majored in 13 foreign languages: English,

French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Dutch, Polish, Arabic, Japanese, Korean,
and Thai. Their clients included Jacques Rogge, IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, IOC
Honorary President, George W. Bush, the then U.S. president, Gerhard Schroder, German
ex-chancellor, etc. Their jobs included language assistance, transportation arrangement and daily
program coordination. During the Games, those students not only escorted the guests to
competition venues, press conferences and diplomatic occasions, but also helped them and their
spouses with daily life—airport pick-up and see-off, tour guiding, health care, legal issues, etc.

                                                              Beijing Foreign
                                                              Studies University
                                                              Capital Normal
                                                              Renmin University of
                                                              Beijing International
                                                              Studies University

Figure1 Distribution of OFA volunteers

Interpreting for Jacques Rogge, IOC president

GSTI volunteers and professionals
GSTI of BFSU has a unique strength in conference interpreting. It is the earliest institution
training professional interpreters and translators in China. It was initially set up as the
UN-sponsored Translator and Interpreter Training Programme in 1979. From 1979 through 1994,

the Programme turned out more than 200 professionals for the UN organizations. The UN
sponsored Translator and Interpreter Training Programme became the Graduate School of
Translation and Interpretation in 1994 and established postgraduate programme on professional
training of translation and interpretation. In 2007, it began to admit students into a graduate
program named multilingual simultaneous interpretations, with a vision to produce professional
multilingual interpreters. In 2008, GSTI became a member of CIUTI (International Permanent
Conference of University Institutes of Translators and Interpreters), the first member from China.
In the same year, it launched the Asia-Pacific T&I Training Centre. Now it has 180 MA students,
including 10 international students, and 22 faculty member.

The Olympic interpretation team contained 30-plus Chinese-English interpreters, over 20 of whom
were GSTI faculty, students and alumni. They were hired as consecutive and simultaneous
interpreters for pre-Games press conferences and Games-time post-match press conferences.
During the Games, they provided language support in dozens of competition venues.

Five GSTI teachers joined the team after they had, with excellent performances, passed
consecutive and simultaneous interpreting tests given by the BOCOG. One teacher was appointed
as team leader. They all had had rich conference interpreting experience with international
organizations such as the UN, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank. Between August and
September, 2008, they interpreted consecutively and simultaneously for post-competition press
conferences during the events of basketball, volleyball, baseball, table tennis, goalball, wheelchair
basketball, etc..

They all felt great pressure interpreting for the Olympics and Paralympics. Being a member in this
elite team, they undertook crucial work and must behave excellently. Besides, sports interpretation
is by no means easy for any interpreter, unless he or she used to be an athlete or is a veteran in this
regard. Prior to the Games, the teachers had attended quite a few training sessions by the BOCOG
on competition rules and sports vocabulary. They spent a lot of time familiarizing themselves with
numerous jargons. All of them took the interpretation task seriously, for it not only concerned their
personal reputation, but concerned national pride.

Of the four Chinese-English simultaneous interpreters assigned to the basketball venue—Beijing
Olympic Basketball Gymnasium, two were GSTI teachers and one was its alumna. Olympic
Basketball was a big event. During 16 days (August 9—August 24), the gymnasium hosted a total
of 72 matches, outnumbering any other ball sports venues. All post-match press conferences there
used simultaneous interpretation, a big challenge to the interpreters.

Chen Ke, a faculty member with GSTI, interpreted for nearly 20 post-competition press
conferences of basketball event at Olympic time. Before that, he had seldom taken part in or
watched basketball competitions. Before the Games took place, however, he had got a chance to
be an ONS translator for Good Luck Beijing Women’s Basketball Tournament 2008 on April
19-26. During one week, he spectated in dozens of matches and translated a plethora of English
documents—biographies, press conference flash quotes, previews and reviews. By doing that, he
familiarized himself with basketball rules and jargons.

Thanks to this translation experience, he was assigned to the basketball venue at Games time to do
simultaneous interpreting. He was called upon to work from day one. At the beginning, however,
he still encountered some problems. Due to poor coordination, ONS staff failed to give him
technical analysis immediately after the match, so that he had great time pressure browsing the
data before interpreting. When interpreting, he had difficulty in understanding some jargons. Press
conferences were occasions where any topic could come up. Sometimes, the questions to coaches
and players were not relevant to the match. For example, a famous player was asked about his
military service. In addition, before the Games, he had never interpreted late into the night. But
during the Games, a lot of matches completed after 10pm, so he had to adjust himself to working
very late.

With the event going on, collaboration improved and technical data was available in time. At the
same time, Chen Ke got more skilled at jargons and more adjusted to questions and responses. He
ended up interpreting successfully for all conferences he undertook and his excellence was
acknowledged by the venue operation team. Equipped with Games-time experience, Chen Ke
geared himself up for the Paralympics, where he undertook consecutive interpretation for
post-competition press conferences of wheelchair basketball. This time, he felt at ease with
everything except for a few specialized glossaries, and ended up with another success.

According to Chen Ke, being a professional interpreter for the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics
was a wonderful and rewarding experience. This was his first exposure to world-class sporting
events. This job did not just involve interpreting, but a lot of on-spot preparations. Before each
press conference, he had to sit two hours for the whole match, recording the performance of
players. This process was full of stress and tense. When watching the game, he must predict which
player would accompany the coach to the post-match press conference. Typically the
best-performing player would be the candidate. All this taught him how to better handle pressure
of interpretation. It was in 2008 summer that he turned himself into a basketball fan.

Recalling the whole process, Chen Ke thought there were some areas for improvement. For
example, the position of the interpretation booth prevented him seeing all journalists and reporters
during the press conference, so that he could not know their reaction when interpreting. Besides,
in all those post-match press conferences, only one simultaneous interpreter was in the booth
instead of two or three, out of unknown reasons. The conference had been expected to last 20-30
minutes, not much beyond the capacity of one interpreter. (Typically, there should be 2-3
interpreters in one booth and they should rotate every 20 minutes.) But during Games-time, some
press conferences lasted much longer to 90 minutes, which pushed Chen Ke to his limits.

Zhou Zheng, a young teacher of GSTI, was also a member of the interpretation team, serving as a
consecutive interpreter for Olympic Baseball and Paralympic Goalball. (Baseball is no longer an
Olympic competition item after Beijing 2008.) Zhou Zheng behaved excellently during the Games,
especially when interpreting for the post-competition conferences of Paralympic Goalball. All her
efforts paid off. After Olympics, GSTI received a letter of thanks from the operation team of
Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium—goalball venue, acknowledging her devotion as well

as excellence.

A letter of thanks to the GSTI from the operation team of Beijing Institute of Technology

Actually, GSTI teachers started their interpreting job in the lead-up to the Games. They interpreted
for a great many BOCOG press releases, for example, press conferences on the Preparatory Work
of Co-host Cities for 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, on the launch of official posters of the Beijing
Olympic and Paralympic Games, and on the launch of the Games-time version of the official
website of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Around 10 GSTI alumni, most of whom were experienced freelancers, were admitted to the
interpretation team. Lin Jin-pan, who graduated from GSTI in 2006, had been a freelance
conference interpreter before the Olympics. She had provided excellent language services for over
a hundred international conferences and workshops on different subjects, including but not limited
to economics, trade, finance, science and technology, laws, sports, education, health, environment,
logistics, medical science, IT and bio-technologies. After passing BOCOG interpretation test, she,
together with another two GSTI alumnae, was assigned to Beijing Olympic Green Tennis
Court—Olympic tennis venue. In other words, of the four Chinese-English consecutive
interpreters there, three were GSTI graduates.

Between August 10 and August 17, Lin Jin-pan provided consecutive interpreting for over 30
press conferences, including those for Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Kuznetsova,
Jelena Jankovic, Serena and Venus Williams. Thanks to numerous matches every day, when on
duty, she generally interpreted for at least four conferences a day, which was a huge workload. To
her delight, she was capable of all the tasks and delivered a very good service.

The tennis venue was only equipped with Chinese-English interpreters due to insufficient
multilingual talents. That means all foreign coaches and players had to listen to and answer the

questions in English. But some of them were not good at English, which caused communication

Three GSTI graduates of the year 2007 were employed by the International Relations Department
(IRD) of BOCOG as full-time interpreters. Zhang Tong worked for the Language Service Division
of IRD from September, 2007 until the end of 2008. Her assignments of consecutive interpretation
included meetings and receptions, interpreting for BOCOG leaders, IOC leaders and other guests
including: Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC; Hein Verbruggen, Chairman of the IOC
Coordination Commission; Juan Antonio Samaranch, IOC Honorary President for Life; Sir Philip
Craven, President of the IPC; Liu Qi, President of BOCOG; Guo Jinlong, Mayor of Beijing, and
for a good many press releases in the Beijing Olympic Media Centre and the Main Press Centre
for the Beijing Olympic Games, and Good Luck Beijing Test Events. Her simultaneous
assignments included BOCOG working meetings such as BOCOG-IOC Project Review and
BOCOG-IPC Project Review, and international conferences such as Beijing 2008 Official
Debriefing, 71st Congress of AIPS (International Sports Press Association) , 10th Meeting of the
Coordination Commission of the IOC, BOCOG Sponsor Hospitality Workshop, etc. Her
outstanding performances won her very good reputation, which is very helpful to her present
occupation—a freelance interpreter.

Four GSTI students were admitted to the interpretation team. Wan Ye, a top student of GSTI, was
one of them. In the lead-up to the Games, Wan was in his first-year of graduate studies. He had
had been trained consecutive interpreting for nearly one year. On April10-21, 2008, he served as
an ONS translator for Good Luck Beijing 2008 ISSF World Cup (shooting event), translating into
Chinese a large number of English documents—flash quotes, athlete biographies, previews and
reviews. That was the first time he had served an international sporting event, an exciting
experience to him. After that, he decided to seek a chance to be an Olympic interpreter. He took
part in the BOCOG test and eventually was qualified as a professional interpreter for the Olympics
and Paralympics.

Between August 13 and August 23, he provided consecutive interpretation for dozens of baseball
post-match conferences, every conference lasting 20-30 minutes. Being a student lack of
interpreting practices, he had done a great deal of preparatory work before the Games. He
collected as much as information related to baseball, watched numerous matches both in Chinese
and English, familiarizing himself with rules and glossary and spent several hours a day in the
language lab practicing. Nevertheless, he felt a little nervous on the first day of Olympic service,
because he found watching a competition on the scene was different from watching it on TV with
regard to players’ actions and game procedures. As a result, he bent to every detail and kept
recording technical data, which, he thought, would decide whether he could successfully deliver
interpretation after the game. His job on the first day turned out to be successful. In the following
days, he interpreted so well that no one realized he was just a post-graduate student. Given that, he
went on to interpret for Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball Competition and also succeeded.

Olympic interpreting is memorable and beneficial to Wan Ye. It helped him to be more capable of
handling pressure, taught him how to be a professional interpreter and enriched his resume. It

proved that interpreting for Beijing 2008 brought him more career opportunities. He was hired as a
consecutive and simultaneous interpreter for plenty of international conferences and seminars in
the second year at GSTI. In the summer of 2009, he left GSTI and now he works as an interpreter
with the Ministry of Agriculture.

More than 50 GSTI students joined OFA Programme. Their clients were high-level IOC officials
and international distinguished guests, including Jacques Rogge, IOC president, Sir Philip Craven,
President of the IPC, Hein Verbruggen, Member of the International Olympic Committee and
Chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission, International Weightlifting Federation, Kipchoge
Keino, president of National Olympic Committee Kenya, the Greek royal family, etc.

OFA Programme concerned escort interpreting. Although this job did not pose much on-spot
pressure to interpreters, it required all-round competence: linguistic proficiency, devotion,
consideration, patience, coordination, collaboration and communication. All of IOC officials they
escorted had very busy schedules, so in less than two months (July 31-August 25), these
volunteers worked long hours every day. They not only escorted IOC officials to various meetings
and events and prepared a huge number of documents for the officials, but also assisted the
spouses of the officials to cope with their life in China. With outstanding linguistic proficiency and
considerate services, GSTI volunteers won the hearts of all the officials and their spouses. What
impressed these volunteers most was that OFA Programme facilitated teamwork spirit among
them and strengthened sense of responsibility.

Five of GSTI OFA volunteers were students of multilingual simultaneous interpretations. GSTI set
up this multilingual interpretation program (French/German/Russian plus English and Chinese) in
2007, aiming to produce multilingual interpreters. As a result, GSTI students could provide
interpreting in other languages besides English or could interpret between two foreign languages.
Xin Qi, whose foreign languages were English and German, had been involved in the multilingual
interpretation program for one year when the Olympics began. During Games-time, she escorted
Mr. Gerhard Schröder, Germany’s Ex-Chancellor, to attend the Opening Ceremony and other
diplomatic activities, where she showed her multilingual competence.

GSTI’s Olympic involvement can trace back to Good Luck Beijing Olympic test events. Between
March and May 2008, 32 GSTI students and teachers translated for ONS (Olympic News Service)
Programme in 8 items: water polo, synchronized swimming, shooting, fence-play, women’s
basketball, marathon, walking race and track and field. Some of them interpreted for post-match
press conferences of women’s basketball and shooting. What they had done in Good Luck Beijing
was very useful for the Olympic interpreting.

Before the Games started, the GSTI had attempted to provide remote interpreting for the Beijing
Olympics. GSTI, together with a well-known manufacturer of video communication products,
explored the feasibility of converting a video conference system into equipment dedicated to
distance interpreting. The new equipment would be installed in the MSC and connected to several
venues during Games time so that interpreters could stay in the MSC and interpreted for
conferences in different venues. That innovative concept interested the BOCOG leaders. When Mr.

Liu Qi, President of the BOCOG, inspected the BFSU, he attended the demonstration given by the
GSTI on operating the interpretation system and was impressed by it. Although the concept did
not come into reality due to time pressure, the demonstration was a good attempt and conducive to
the trend of interpretation service.

Demonstration on distance interpreting

Beijing 2008 presented a global platform for BFSU and BFSU-GSTI to display their achievements
on language teaching, especially on interpreting. The biggest tangible legacy to BFSU is the
Multilingual Service Centre. The Centre was set up for the Olympics, but its mission is beyond
that. The Centre is still running now and BFSU is architecting a blueprint for its sustainable
development. The MSC is bound to be a permanent institution to provide multilingual service for

The Olympics also left to the BFSU a lot of intangible legacies. It helped the University to build a
volunteer culture, which is crucial for the university to continue to serve society. The Olympics
also facilitated multi-language teaching in the BFSU. After the Games, a great many students
became more enthusiastic in learning a second and a third language. The University also realized
that China was hungry for multilingual talents, so it will commit itself to producing more of such
graduates and expanding language categories.

As for the GSTI, Beijing 2008 was a big interpretation project, in which GSTI teachers and
students teamed up to offer excellent language services. Today’s students will be tomorrow’s
professionals. It is within the responsibility of interpretation education that the students should be
empowered with interpreter competence, so that after graduation they will be capable and
confident enough to tackle a wide variety of assignments that may not have even existed when
they were studying. Therefore, the GSTI commits itself to developing professional competence of
the students in doing translation and interpreting in the contexts of cross-cultural communication

and developing the sense of professionalism and responsibility of the students in offering service
to the market. It is fair to say Beijing 2008 empowered GSTI students with that competence.

Apart from achievements, there are areas for improvement and offering food for thought. For
example, English-Chinese interpreters account for a majority of all interpreters in China. English
often ended being the default language in significant international events. (Martine: On being an
"Olympic" Interpreter) What will become of other languages such as French, another working
language of the IOC, in the future? For example, 415 of the 562 BFSU volunteers for OFA
Programme were English-Chinese interpreters, while only 54 volunteers are majored in French
language. The number of students speaking other languages was much smaller. (See Figure2)
Multilingual talents were obviously insufficient for Beijing 2008, leading to the consequence that
some sports events only provided Chinese-English interpretation. Although the GSTI had carried
on the multilingual interpretation course for one year, the students of this course still used English
when taking part in the OFA Programme in Games time. Therefore, Beijing 2008 presented the
GSTI a question on how to strengthen its multilingual programme.










     Sp h



    Ja an

     Ru e



     It e



  Po rma



















It is believed that in the years ahead, we will see China’s interpreting market speed up and new
demands will boom: on-demand telephone interpreting, distance interpreting, etc. This landscape
will prompt the BFSU and the GSTI to innovate in teaching and to embrace opportunities as well
as challenges.

Wang Lidi, Professor and Dean of Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation, Beijing
Foreign Studies University
Zhang Jie, Lecturer of Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation, Beijing Foreign Studies

Beijing Foreign Studies University News
GSTI website:
Official Website of the Chinese Olympic Committee:
Official Website of Good Luck Beijing 2007-2008:
Interview with Liu Bo-ran, Deputy Director of International Programmes Office, BFSU
Interview with Hu Xiaohong, Director of Asia-Pacific T&I Training Centre, GSTI
Interview with Zhang Yang, GSTI office staff
Interview with Chen Ke, GSTI faculty member
Interview with Zhou Zheng, GSTI faculty member
Interview with Lin Jin-pan, GSTI alumna
Interview with Zhang Qiong, GSTI alumna
Interview with Wan Ye, GSTI alumnus
Interview with Zhang Tong, BOCOG full-time interpreter
Interview with Hu Ting, BOCOG full-time interpreter

Collis, J. (2007, August). Opportunities for linguists at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic. The
     ATA Chronicle, 36(8), 20-24.
Paulin G. Djite (2009, May). Language policy at major sporting events. Current Issues in
     Language Planning, 10(2), 221–233.
Anthony Pym (2003). Olympic Translators, in Barcelona and Elsewhere. Georges Androulakis, ed.
     Translating in the 21st Century. Trends and Prospects. Proceedings. Thessaloniki: Aristotle
     University, 2003. 795-799.
Martine Bonadona. On being an "Olympic" Interpreter. Newsletter. Website of Calliope


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