Olympic ire over language exam

Athens 2004 Olympics organizers yesterday took the unprecedented step of attacking a foreign cultural institution for appearing to criticize, in a language exam question, the selection of the Greek capital as host for next summer’s Games. The tirade followed reports in the Greek press that one of the subjects for discussion in the oral section of the French Institute’s DELF1 exam was the proposition that «it is ridiculous to hold the 2004 Olympics in Athens.» DELF1 is for elementary language skills, and is generally sat by 13- to 16-year-olds. An Athens 2004 organizing committee announcement yesterday said the selection of the subject «was unfortunate, to say the least,» and threatened to sabotage France’s Olympic aspirations. «We must point out that just two days ago, Paris announced its bid for the 2012 Olympics. It is a shame that the selection of the [exam] subject provides a negative image regarding France and the 2004 Olympics.» Education Minister Petros Efthymiou also stepped in, describing the subject selection as a «grave error.» The French Embassy and the Institute apologized, but pointed out that the exam was just meant to test language skills.

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