By Gary Anderson

April 14 - Athletes will compete in the 2017 Francophone Games in Abidjan in Ivory Coast ©AFP/Getty ImagesAbidjan, Ivory Coast's capital, has been announced as the host of the 2017 Francophone Games.

Ivory Coast Prime Minister and President of the country's National Olympic Committee (NOC) Daniel Kablan Duncan was in Paris to sign the host city contract with the International Committee for the Francophone Games (CIJF) at the headquarters of the International Francophone Organisation (OIF).

Secretary general for the OIF Abdou Diouf was also present at the contract signing.

The ceremony in Paris marks the official start of preparations for the 2017 Games - due to take place from July 21 to 30 - which will be  organised in the name of solidarity, diversity and excellence, it is claimed by officials.

The Francophone Games were first launched in 1989 in Casablanca and Rabat, Morocco, and are a combination of sporting and cultural events for nations where French is the main language or where significant parts of the population use French as the first language.

There were four sports at the inaugural Games in 1989 - athletics, basketball, football and judo - which have been contested at all editions since.

The 1994 edition in Paris saw handisport, handball, table tennis and wrestling adding to the programme; however these were dropped for Antananarivo in Madagascar in 1997 and replaced with boxing and tennis.

Unsurprisingly, France is the leading nation at the Francophone Games topping the table at every edition bar one since 1989 ©AFP/Getty ImagesUnsurprisingly, France is the leading nation at the Francophone Games topping the table at every edition bar one since 1989 ©AFP/Getty Images

The 2001 Games were held in Ottawa, Canada, which saw the return of table tennis and handisport along with boxing and beach volleyball, while Niamy, Niger, saw the return of wrestling as a demonstration sport in place of handisport and beach volleyball in 2005.

The 2009 Games in Beirut, Lebanon saw beach volleyball included instead of wrestling.

The 2013 edition in the French city of Nice included athletics, basketball, football, judo, boxing, handisport, wrestling and table tennis while cycling was introduced for the first time.

France has topped the medals table at every Francophone Games apart from the 2001 edition in Ottawa, when Romania emerged as the top nation.

Organisers are expecting a record number of participants for the 2017 Games with around 4,000 young athletes and artists from 77 Francophone nations anticipated to arrive in Abidjan.

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