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Isidore Kwandja: « is the DRC ready to host the Games of La Francophonie in 2021? »

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Isidore KWANDJA NGEMBO

[VIEWPOINT] – According to the latest news from the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), the Permanent Council is meeting at the beginning of this week to prescribe the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to host the Games. the Francophonie in 2021.

As a reminder, two Canadian provinces members of La Francophonie, New Brunswick and Quebec, were competing to host the 9th edition of the Games of La Francophonie. It was New Brunswick that was chosen and finally gave up organizing them because it is too expensive.

In accordance with the OIF Applicant Guidebook, the basic financial framework is set at a minimum of € 10 million ($ 15 million) for the Games of La Francophonie. But even the organizers of the OIF are very aware that it is impossible to hold an event of this magnitude with a budget of 10 million euros.

Estimated costs for New Brunswick in 2015 were $ 17.5 million. A few years later, costs skyrocketed from $ 17.5 million by the time New Brunswick’s bid was accepted to $ 130 million in 2018, before being revised to $ 62 million in 2019. Quebec, which at one point wanted to take over, before giving up, estimated the costs at $ 52 million.

Studies show that most of the countries hosting major sporting events of international scope have seen their spending budget explode significantly and far exceed the budget announced when applying.

However, for the Games to be successful, it is clear that at least three conditions must be met, namely substantial financial means, sports and hotel facilities, and of course popular support in the host country.

In my humble opinion, taking into account the cost-benefit ratio, not only the rushed organization of the Games of La Francophonie by the DRC in 2021 is not a good financial operation, all the conditions listed above will not be met. to ensure that the Games proceed satisfactorily, while ensuring adequate protection of the athletes’ health and safety. It would be better if the DRC passes its turn, given the tight schedule and the risk of causing significant cost overruns.

Indeed, according to concordant sources that we interviewed within the Organization, it seems that the DRC has proposed tens of millions of dollars to host the Games of La Francophonie in 2021.

As the other said, the President of the Republic is not a magician to know everything. This is why he surrounds himself with advisers who must demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the various scientific fields as well as the political, economic and social life of the country, to help him make informed decisions. They must exercise critical judgment and careful analysis of all proposals made to the president, in order to avoid making quick decisions.

The last Games of La Francophonie held in 2017 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, had hosted 3,500 participants. President Alassane Dramane Ouattara and former Secretary General of La Francophonie Michaëlle Jean set the bar high by organizing the exceptional Games in the history of La Francophonie. This great success is a success shared by the Ivorian authorities and the administration of Michaëlle Jean in the field of youth, which no one can deny or ignore.

Welcoming the Games of La Francophonie is a heavy responsibility that requires careful preparation and a major challenge for a country that does not have enough sports facilities to properly host such international competitions. Moreover, the country is still without a legitimate government, six months after the elections.

For the moment, it would be wise for the OIF to entrust the holding of the 9th edition of the Games of the Francophonie to a member country which already has adequate sports facilities, but also hotel facilities that will allow hundreds of young French-speaking athletes to be able to compete safely. As was the case in 2010 with the Francophonie Summit, initially planned for Antananarivo, and which was finally organized in Montreux in Switzerland.

Even bigger, there are many examples that countries are no longer scrambling to host the international games, because the return on investment is uncertain. This is particularly the case in Stockholm, Krakow and Lviv, which had renounced the organization of the Winter Games in 2022.

Candidates for the organization of the Olympic Games 2024, Rome, Boston, Hamburg and Budapest preferred to give up the lack of support from their populations who considered the project too expensive for less financial benefits. Candidate for the organization of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2026, Calgary has also given up hosting the Games for the same reasons.

If the DRC wants to apply to host the Games of the Francophone, a new call for applications will be launched next November for the 10th edition in 2025. During this time, it can begin construction and renovation of sports infrastructure and seriously prepare to welcome athletes in optimal conditions.

The DRC has many other national priorities that require financial means and special attention from the President of the Republic. Anyway, Felix Tshisekedi is not engaged in a race against the clock to catch up any delay. To want to go too fast, one risks to obtain the opposite effect to that expected.

Isidore KWANDJA NGEMBO, Political scientist

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