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DRC Rushes to Finish Infrastructure Ahead of Francophone Games

FILE - People stand outside Tata Raphael Stadium in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, June, 4, 2016.

KINSHASA — Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo are scrambling to finish tracks, sports stadiums and accommodation for athletes taking part in the International Francophone Games, which kick off in the capital Kinshasa at the end of next month.

Organizers of the 10-day Jeux de la Francophonie have grown increasingly concerned about the state of preparations as the July 28 start date nears.

The Games, which are held every four years with the aim of promoting the French language, were already pushed back two years from 2021 to bring infrastructure up to international standards.

"The athletics tracks and judo area are not yet ready," Daniel Zielinski, head of the Games' French delegation said this week. "There is still a lot of work to be done," he added.

The national committee organizing the Games unveiled a 20-kilometer cycling route on Sunday.

"At the beginning of July, we're going to clear up the potholes along the way," said president Isidore Kwandja.

"All that remains is finishing work on the administrative offices," he assured.

But workers at the Tata Raphael football stadium, which will be hosting the men's tournament, doubted renovations would be completed on time.

"They asked us to finish the work on June 20 but that is impossible, there is still a lot of work to be done," said one of the workers, who did not wish to be named.

A diplomatic source in Kinshasa warned there were also concerns about security provisions for the event.

Kwandja said a private company had been hired to secure the events inside while 4,500 police would be deployed outside.

The Games will include athletics, basketball, football, wrestling and cycling among other sports. Around 3,000 athletes from more than 40 countries will be taking part.

The last edition took place in Ivory Coast in 2017.