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Pokémon Go delays launch in France due to Nice attack

Respect for a nation in mourning, and safety risks, pushed the maker of the game that sparked a global craze to postpone the date by a few days at least.

by Sarah Francoise
Jul 20 2016, 4:38pm

Un uomo cammina di fianco a un poster nel centro Pokémon di Tokyo [foto di Kimimasa Mayama/EPA]

The launch of Pokémon Go in France has been postponed in the wake of the horrific Nice truck attack which killed 84 people on July 14. Gaming and entertainment news site IGN reported over the weekend that the launch of the augmented reality game had been delayed from July 15, the day when it was released in other European countries.

A source told IGN that the launch had been pushed back out of safety concerns, as hunting for Pokémon has been known to cause large, spontaneous public gatherings, deemed a security risk in the wake of the attack. IGN later published a statement by The Pokémon Company saying the launch would be delayed "out of respect for the people of France in this period of national mourning."

French president François Hollande declared three days of national mourning last week, after a 31-year old man named Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhleldrove a 19-ton rental truck into pedestrians who had gathered on the Nice seafront to watch the Bastille Day fireworks.

"Our thoughts and prayers go with the victims of this terrible attack," the statement from The Pokémon Company continued.

Related: The Nice truck attacker was into crash videos, but a lukewarm Muslim

Another possible problem that might have led The Pokémon Company to delay the launch of the game in France is the risk that people trespass into sensitive or closed areas when hunting for the virtual monsters.

On Monday, a 27-year-old Frenchman living in Jakarta, Indonesia, inadvertently entered an Indonesian military base while pursuing a Pokémon. The man, who was reportedly on a business trip in the port city of Cirebon when he was caught trespassing, was questioned several hours before being released Tuesday.

Over the weekend, a sighting of a particularly rare Pokémon caused a commotion in Manhattan's Central Park, with reports of drivers leaving their cars to try and catch the monster.

But even though the game hasn't officially been launched in France yet, there are ways around that. It is still possible to play Pokémon Go on an Android phone by downloading the game from a mirror site, or on an iPhone by creating a profile based in the US.

According to French weekly Le Point, hundreds of fans ignored an official ban on a giant Pokémon hunt in the Jardin du Luxembourg on July 14, before the attack. That took place steps away from the French Senate.

Related: We spoke to the guy behind all those Pokémon Go internet hoaxes

Meanwhile, French law enforcement has issued warnings to players. The Gendarmerie Nationale, which urged drivers not to play the game, and pedestrians to be "doubly vigilant" when hunting Pokémon.

It is not officially known when the game will be available in France, but according to Le Figaro, it could be any day now.