The sixth Francophone Games, inaugurated yesterday (27 September) in Beirut, bring together some 3,000 delegates from 42 countries to compete in six sports and seven cultural events over the next ten days.
The 2009 Games, held in Lebanon this week (27 September-6 October), will see athletes compete in athletics, soccer, women’s basketball, table tennis, judo and boxing. Beach volleyball also figures in this year’s programme, but only as entertainment.
The Francophone Games, known as the ‘
Jeux de la Francophonie
‘ in French, are a combination of artistic and sporting events for French-speaking nations.
The seven cultural contests feature singing, dance, sculpture, painting, photography, story-telling and literature.
Organised by the International Francophony Organisation (Organisation Internationale de la Francophone;
OIF) every four years since 1989, the Games bring together delegates from the 56 OIF member states and 14 observing members. The OIF is an international organisation of polities and governments where French is the mother or customary language or where there is an important affiliation with the French language or culture.
The Francophone Games can be seen as a counterweight to the Commonwealth Games, which involve the elite athletes of the Commonwealth of Nations and are also held every four years.
While primarily considered to be a sporting and cultural competition, the Games represent an occasion to bring together and foster links between French-speaking countries. The event also promotes solidarity and cooperation, the stated founding principles of La Francophonie, as they are held at least every second time in a developing country.
Three countries – France and its city Nice, Equatorial Guinea and its capital Malabo, and Chad and its capital N’Djamena – have put forward their candidacies for the next Francophone Games in 2013.