“We need a firm option to host the participants”

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The next Francophonie Games are due to take place from July 28 to August 6, 2023 in Kinshasa. A year from their start, the director of the International Games Committee (CIJF) is showing her confidence in the Congolese authorities. But Zeïna Mina is worried, on the other hand, about the delay in the construction of the village which must accommodate the hundreds of athletes and artists from the 42 countries already registered. Maintenance.

RFI: Zeina Mina, where is Congo at one year from the Games of La Francophonie in Kinshasa (July 28-August 6, 2023)? Is the DRC on schedule?

Zeina Mina : No, the DRC is not on schedule. You have to be frank. We are way behind schedule. It is due initially to the pandemic and the two postponements. There, we are one year away from the Games and there is a major concern around the village which will welcome the athletes, in particular. To date, it is not ready. We are still at the foundations. So, it is important that there be a very quick decision, on the part of the government, to offer us an option allowing us to host the Games of La Francophonie and its athletes and artists.

What can be the plan B in terms of accommodation, if this village does not see the light of day in time?

I would first like to recall that, in 2019, when the DRC was selected to organize these Games of La Francophonie, we essentially had beautiful cultural infrastructures, football pitches and an athletics stadium which required very little work: just a little re-topping [travaux sur le revêtement de la piste, Ndlr]. We also needed basketball courts, a hall for this sport, a hall for table tennis and one for judo. And, of course, the village.

There was a strong commitment – ​​which is still there – from the government. We would also like to thank the government of the DRC, which formed a steering committee, chaired by the Minister of International Cooperation, Regional Integration and Francophonie [Pépin-Guillaume Manjolo Buakila, Ndlr]. They demonstrate to each of my missions a strong commitment to the organization of these Games in 2023.

Today, we can say that the works of the sports venues are progressing very slowly but that they are progressing. We have a judo room which is ready but which we still have to validate. […] So the only real concern is with the village. The authorities had undertaken to make prefabricated, like what had happened in Abidjan, in 2017. The Ivorians had managed to deploy quickly and they had a village ready a few months before the Games.

Today we are one year away from the 2023 Games and there is a decision but it does not translate on the ground. So we still have uncertainties about that. We absolutely have to come up with a solution. Because the hotel capacity in Kinshasa is very small. There is no option B, when it comes to hospitality. We need a firm and serious option to host the participants.

Is there real concern?

If no option is presented before the next Permanent Council of the Francophonie (CPF), which is scheduled for October, there will be concerns. But I trust the Congolese government. They should present the chosen option to us before the next CPF.

The global economy is marked by high inflation. Is this cause for concern or do you think it will not have a significant impact on the preparations for these Games?

Yes, of course. And then there is the Covid-19 which is unstable. There are resurgences and therefore concerns. But the international medical commission and the local medical commission are making all the necessary arrangements.

Moreover, with regard to the various orders to be placed for these Games, there are also concerns. But until September 2022, we will still be on time to place these Games-related orders. Then there are the manufacturing times of the various goods, their delivery times to the DRC […]. All these delays must be taken very seriously.

Some African athletes may be tempted to choose between competing in the Games of La Francophonie and competing in the African Games which will take place from August 4 to 19, 2023 in Ghana. Is this cause for concern?

When we chose the dates for the Games of La Francophonie, the international sports calendars indicated the African Games in September. In particular, we took into consideration the African Cup of Nations football in Côte d’Ivoire, which has now been postponed. [1]. I think that there should really be better coordination of all the players because the international calendar is really overloaded. In August 2023, there will be the Universiade [les jeux universitaires, Ndlr]the World Athletics Championships… We have taken these events into consideration as well as the African Games that we were expecting in September. […]

Is the tenth edition of the Games of La Francophonie still scheduled for 2025?

No, because 2025 is already tomorrow. We don’t want to fall back into the same problems. Casually, we were working on 20 cultural and sporting events. So the next two editions will take place in 2027 and 2031. These dates have been endorsed by the CPF. We will be launching the call for applications very soon. […] We hope to have the two host countries at once in order to have peace of mind for the next two editions.

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There should be new, more urban disciplines for these editions. Can you introduce them to us?

[…] We stayed on the same number of disciplines but we are going to offer a more flexible formula. There will be 14 titular disciplines and the organizing country can choose the other 6 disciplines. We have compiled a list but he can always propose a cultural or sporting discipline that he would like to add. Among the holders, we have integrated breakdance as well as 3×3 basketball [à la place du hip hop et du basket-ball, Ndlr]. We have also integrated other disciplines such as skateboarding and rollerblading. We really want to develop the urban side. So the host country that would like to go in this direction will have the opportunity to do so. It’s more of a relaxation than a development. A development that goes towards more urban sports.

[1] CAN 2023 was supposed to take place in June-July but was postponed to January-February 2024.


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