In the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, Masano the leopard and mascot of the 9th edition of the La Francophonie Games greets the visitor.
Workers were racing to finish sports facilities ahead of Games starting on July 28th.
On July 20, a delegation led by Congolese Ministers of Sport, Foreign Affairs, Communication gave a tour of the Kinshasa site to Ambassadors of Francophone Countries.
“Normally all sites have to be ready by July 23, so five days before the Games start. We’re three days away. We came here on the site of UNIKIN, the University of Kinshasa. You saw athletes who came in the for the Conference of Ministers of Youth and Sports of the Francophonie. They are already housed and they are being taken care of”
Some 3,000 athletes from about 30 French-speaking countries will compete.
The Democratic Republic of Congo was attributed the organization of the 9th edition of the Games in 2019.
The event was initially scheduled in 2021, four years after the latest edition in Côte d’Ivoire but the pandemic changed plans.
In 2022 they were postponed again because the DRC didn’t have the adequate infrastructure to host the event.
It is tough to get the resources to organize such events, when you are a nation at war,” Foreign minister Christophe Lutundula conceded.
One the hardships were overcome, the DRC got back on track.
“At this point, the main work has been done, we’re now waiting for the Games,” Communications minister Patrick Muyaya said.
“We will be happy for our youth who can now participate in sports competitions or prepare for major competitions with modern equipment. The DRC will be happy to host competitions for all disciplines involved in the Jeux de La Francophonie”
The so-called Jeux de la Francophonie combine sports and cultural disciplines.
The event aims to promote the spirit and principles of the French-speaking world through encounters and exchanges between young Francophones.
The first squads arrived early from Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin and Niger…. and they faced minor hitches.
Some had no access to running water in their rooms.
All was so far so good for Togo’s coach of traditional African wrestling who also came in early: “We were well received, and are now settled in nicely. As for the food, we don’t complain, everything is going great. That now gives us now enthusiasm, or let’s say the vision of winning medals, if it pleases God. “
The Francophonie games will end on August 6 after 10 days of competition in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Games caravan has already started touring the streets.
Early July, some participants like Canada’s province of Québec said they would not come or send smaller delegations. They cited security and health concerns.