5th Francophonie Games open in Niamey

Niamey- Niger (PANA) -- Sporting competition at the 5th Francophonie Games went into full swing in Niamey Thursday after President Mamadou Tandja officially opened the events on Wednesday at the General Seyni Kountche Stadium.
Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo of Nihgeria, Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso and Mathieu Kérékou of Benin, as well as the secretary general of the International Francophonie Organisation (OIF), former Senegalese president Abdou Diouf, attended the opening ceremony.
Representing French President Jacques Chirac was his minister of Youth and Sports, Jean-François Lamour, while Premier Edem Kodjo attended for Togolese president Faure Eyadema.
Delegations representing 44 countries from the five continents participating in the 5th Francophonie Games paraded at the opening ceremony that was also marked by several speeches, including that from the chairman of the Urban Community of Niamey, Aboubacar Ganda, who welcomed the participants.
Niger minister of Youth, Sports and the Fifth Francophonie Games, Abdoulrahamane Seydou, the French minister, Jean-François Lamour, and the president of Niger, Mamadou Tandja, also made speeches at the opening ceremony.
Then followed the Francophonie anthem, written by Yane Linster from Luxembourg, to celebrate the ties of friendship between the people from French speaking countries.
The anthem also expresses warmth, hope and victory depicted in the epic of Saraounia, named after the Queen who opposed the French colonisers and a local historic figure, very present in the collective unconscious of the people of Niger.
As the first Sub-Saharan country to organise the Games and a cradle of the institutional Francophonie, with the setting up in March 1970 of the Cultural and Technical Cooperation Agency (ACCT), Niger firmly mobilised to ensure a successful event.
Nearly 3,000 artists and athletes, representing French speaking countries throughout the world, will participate in the Games, which combine sports and culture.
The line-up for competition include football, basket-ball, track and field events, judo, table tennis, boxing, music, literature, painting, dance, tales and poetry.
Since the Francophonie Games were launched in 1989, Niger is the first country to record the highest turnout of participants, with 44 countries represented.
Nevertheless, there are considerable disparities between the participating countries with Canada being represented by 500 participants while Burundi's one-member delegation is only symbolic.
Niger, which was designated in February 1999, in Bamako, on the occasion of the 27th session of the French speaking countries ministers of Youth and Sports to host the 5th Francophonie Games, took six years to prepare the event.
It toiled against the background of political and social instability as well as a food crisis that had no adverse impact on the people's strong determination to host this major event grouping the youths from the Francophone zone.
The government used more than CFA francs 19 billion to organise the Games which required the construction of the Francophonie Village, with its 300 houses and Arts Academy, and the rehabilitation of various facilities, including the General Seyni Kountché Stadium, the Sports Centre, the Amadou Ganda Cultural Centre, the Djado Sékou Youth Centre and several hotels.
This fifth edition of the Francophonie Games follows the editions of Casablanca and Rabat (1989), Paris (1994), Tananarive (1997) and Ottawa (2002).

08 december 2005 14:43:00




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