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Olympic Day 2020: Preparing language learning and looking ahead to 2021

Friendship. Excellence. Respect. These are core values of the Olympic Movement. Since Pierre de Coubertin founded the modern Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee has encouraged people from all walks of life to work toward a better, more peaceful world. 

This mission is central to who we are/what we stand for at EF. Since 1988, we have been proud to work with the Olympics and its various Organizing Committees to design and deliver a range of educational solutions that promote understanding and connectedness at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We have provided online language testing for volunteers; designed digital curricula for students around sports and the critical role that Host Countries play; and taught professional language skills to hundreds of thousands of judges, volunteers, athletes, dignitaries, and members of the Organizing Committees. We are honored to be appointed the trusted supplier of language and education to seven Olympic Games, past and future. 

While the Tokyo 2020 Games have been delayed a year, our excitement about serving as the Official Partner for Language Training Services will keep us motivated into summer 2021. In celebration of Olympic Day on June 23, we sat down with Hugo Bezerra, EF’s Managing Director of Olympic Affairs, to learn more about what we can expect from the upcoming Games in these unprecedented times: 

What has EF done so far in the build-up to the Tokyo? 

Oh, so much! I think it’s important that we take a moment to look back at 2016, right before the Rio Games started – that’s when we had our first Tokyo 2020 staff join our online English training. Since then, we have trained 2,000 staff members and we currently have nearly 40,000 Tokyo 2020 volunteers studying English online with us. 

Our teachers in Japan have also reached out to over 50,000 students from different schools and universities around the country. These students had the unique opportunity to learn about the Olympic and Paralympic values in English.”

How has postponement of the Games impacted our partnership? 

“In many ways it hasn’t. Of course, all the logistical work we planned for this year had to be postponed to 2021, but luckily we had enough notice and the impact was minimal. Looking at the bright side, this postponement allows us to do more activities related to the Tokyo Games for one more year, something we are very excited about. 

That said, the postponement means we will only have five (!) months between the closing of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and the opening of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games. It will be tight, but we can do it! 

What do we have planned now that the Olympics are another year away? 

Many details are still being finalized by the Tokyo 2020 team. For now, we’re going ahead with our original plans, but we may have to follow the organizing committee’s directives to scale back a little in order to ensure the safety of all involved. An example of an activity that may be impacted is the torch relay—we will probably have to limit the number of fans cheering along the route. I’m excited to say we do still plan to have the EF House, where we welcome guests from all over the world; this part of the plan is still on, and we can’t wait to see what Japan, Tokyo and the Olympic Games have to offer. 

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