June 19, 2024

Ninth Francophone games kick off amidst security concerns in Congo


The capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa, is gearing up to host the highly anticipated ninth Francophone Games, but the event is overshadowed by worries surrounding security and safety.

Despite the concerns, tens of thousands of spectators are anticipated to gather for the opening ceremony on Friday, as the Games make their debut in the central African metropolis, bringing together athletes and artists from predominantly French-speaking nations.

The Stade Des Martyrs is set to witness an evening parade, where approximately 80,000 people will be in attendance to cheer on around 3,000 athletes proudly waving their flags.

Government spokesperson, Patrick Muyaya, has promised a captivating sound and light show that will depict a changing Congo during the event.

The road to hosting the Games has been riddled with challenges. Originally scheduled for 2021, they were postponed due to the Covid pandemic, and later delayed again due to unprepared facilities. This has led some delegations, including the province of Quebec, Canada, to either cancel their participation or send smaller teams.

Nonetheless, the Democratic Republic of Congo is determined to successfully host the Games, despite facing economic challenges and ongoing conflict in the eastern part of the country. The government has made significant investments in constructing new sports facilities as a commitment to the nation’s youth.

However, security concerns loom large. The DRC government has assured its readiness by deploying thousands of police officers and members of the Republican Guard to ensure safety. Additionally, a private-security firm has been hired to safeguard the facilities.

The Games have also been affected by diplomatic tensions between the DRC and Rwanda, with accusations of Rwanda supporting the M23 rebels. This issue has brought Louise Mushikiwabo, head of the International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF), to the forefront of discussions.

Despite the challenges, the Francophone Games are expected to be a vibrant ten-day affair, featuring a diverse range of sports competitions and cultural contests, such as painting, sculpture, photography, song, and dance.

The event will serve as a celebration of the shared language and culture of the participating nations, bringing together athletes and artists from various corners of the world for a display of unity and talent.

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