(ATR) IOC President Jacques Rogge will meet with four heads of state in Southern Africa to promote the virtues of sport and study sport development in the continent he calls the IOC’s top priority.
Rogge’s journey began with a meeting with Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg where he stated the IOC’s vision for Africa.
“It is our wish to foster development on the African continent. Africa is the leading continent as far as money and resources go.”
He pointed out that the Olympic movement has invested $65 million in Africa, more than in the larger continent of Asia.
Rogge also defended South Africa’s preparations for the 2010 soccer World Cup after a presentation from the Local Organizing Committee on May 25.
“Organizing a major event like the World Cup or the Olympics is never easy. The presentation that I just saw, however, is very reassuring.”
Rogge is also promoting the idea of a Youth Olympic Games among African sport leaders.
"We want to educate the youth about doping, HIV and the merits of fair play," he said.
"Our aim is to prepare these athletes for the future and use the games to compliment the Olympics."
The IOC executive board made a tentatve endorsement of a Games for 14-18 year old athletes at their April meeting in Beijing. Rogge, who presided over the first European Youth Olympic Festival as European Olympic Committees president, is a strong supporter of a youth Games.
A meeting with South African president Thabo Mbeki is on Rogge’s schedule before leaving the country.
Rogge’s second major trip to Africa as IOC President includes further stops in Lesotho, Namibia and Zambia.
“I want to know exactly what challenges the National Olympic Committees and the sport in the region are facing. And it is also an opportunity for the IOC to access the governments and to convince them that it is worth to support sport and its structures,” he said before leaving Europe.
His next stop is Zambia where he will lay the cornerstone of a new Olympic Sports and Education Center in Lusaka on May 29. Your best source of news about the Olympics is www.aroundtherings.com, for subscribers only.