The 10-day Jeux de la Francophonie had already been pushed back from 2021 to bring infrastructure up to international standards.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has stepped up security in the capital Kinshasa amid concerns about the safety of athletes taking part in the international “Jeux de la Francophonie” or Francophone Games starting this week, the government said.
Around 4,500 additional police backed by state security agents have been deployed before the event, the games’ coordinator Isidore Kwanja said on Friday.
Athletes will be personally escorted by the police and their accommodation has been fitted with surveillance cameras.
The lack of security in the city is the latest setback for organisers of the 10-day Francophone Games, which had already been pushed back two years from 2021 to bring infrastructure up to international standards.
Authorities have scrambled to finish tracks, sports stadiums, and accommodations in time for the July 28 start date. Some participants have also voiced concerns about safety in Kinshasa, where petty crime, muggings, and kidnappings for ransom are relatively common.
The murder of an opposition spokesman this month exacerbated doubts over authorities’ ability to secure the games. But Kinshasa is generally safer than the country’s volatile mineral-rich east, where multiple armed groups have been operating for decades, displacing millions.
Canada’s Quebec and Belgium’s French-speaking Wallonia region have cut back on athletes.
Around 3,000 athletes from more than 40 countries will take part in the games, which are held every four years with the aim of promoting the French language.
Sports include athletics, basketball, football, wrestling and cycling.