Congo has stepped up security in the capital, Kinshasa, amid concerns about the safety of athletes taking part in the International Francophone Games starting this week, the government said.
Around 4,500 additional police backed by state security agents have been deployed ahead of the event, said Isidor Kwanja, the game’s coordinator.
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 organizers of the 10-day Jeux de la Francophonie, 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 Friday’s 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.
Both Canada’s Quebec and Belgium’s French-speaking Wallonia 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.