By Ren Ke
BEIRUT, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- The sixth Francophone Games opened here on Sunday with Arabic and Phoenician style performance and intight security.
The Games, whose participants are mainly from countries and regions with deep French influence, saw an opening ceremony in Beirut's Camille Chamoun Sports Stadium, which admitted more than 20,000 spectators, including Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and other major political figures in the country, Prince Albert of Monaco, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Francophone Organization Secretary General Abdo Diouf.
Some 3,000 athletes and artists from 42 countries and regions will participate in the 10-day games, which are divided in two parts with sports and cultural events. Athletes will compete in six sports including athletics, women's basketball, boxing and table tennis. Participants will also be competing in seven cultural events, such as painting, sculpture, photography and creative dancing.
"This sports and culture event will show the solidarity and diversity of Lebanon," said Suleiman when addressing the opening ceremony, "Although facing a lot of difficulties, Lebanon still maintains its features."
Suleiman's remarks coincided with the slogan of the event -- excellence, solidarity, and diversity.
Among all Arab countries, Lebanon has the largest proportion of Christians -- about 40 percent of its population. However, it has suffered a long-time political sectarism which leads to endless bargains and negotiations, and even assassinations and civil war. Lebanon has now seen three months without a new cabinet after the West-backed bloc won the June parliamentary elections.
The atmosphere in the stadium reached the climax when Lebanese artists and athletes marched in the stadium.
Following the march-in of participants were the performance with Lebanon's places of interests projected on the ground and the curtain on which artists were dancing and singing.
World celebrities including Senegalese artist Youssou N'Dour, Lebanese singer Magida el-Roumi, Lebanese-born composer Gabriel Yared and 100 other musicians and dancers took part in the opening ceremony.
The performance showed Lebanon's six-millennium history from the maritime Phoenician city states in Byblos, Tripoli and Tyre, to the Roman period Baalbeck relics, the later Arabic arts, and finally the modern and metropolitan Beirut.
The extravaganza was held in tight security, as the Lebanese Armed forces have taken extra security check several days ahead ofthe opening ceremony. Soldiers carrying guns are guarding in and out of the stadium and major roads in Beirut. The country's internal security forces also used hounds in the stadium to track potential bombs.
Lebanon was threatened by possible terrorist attacks following some Fatah al-Islam terrorists were caught recently. The authority believes the terrorists are inspired by Al-Qaida.
However, the audiences and performers were not affected by the tight security. The performance ended up with the N'Dour and Roumi's chorus, and gorgeous fireworks.
It is estimated that more than 70 million audiences all over the world watched the live broadcast of the opening ceremony.
The Francophone Games, or the the Jeux de la Francophonie in French, is a counterweight of the Commonwealth Games and is held every four years since 1989 in Casablanca and Rabat of Morocco. The last one was held in Niemey of Niger, 2005.
The participants are mainly with deep French influence and some countries with big French-speaking population like Canada and Switzerland and other countries like Greece, Armenia and Lithuania.