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  • 'Time For Africa' to Host Youth Olympic Games


    (ATR) International Olympic Committee members show overwhelming approval as Senegal is awarded the 2022 Youth Olympic Games.

    Dakar 2022 team with Thomas Bach at IOC session after announcement (ATR)
    The announcement at the Buenos Aires IOC session paves the way for the first multi-sport event under the Olympic flag to be contested in Africa.

    “It is time for Africa,” IOC President Thomas Bach said, just before being joined by African IOC members and sport leaders after approval of the nomination by acclamation.

    Italian IOC member Mario Pescante said: “Since the 1960 Games in my home city, more than half a century has passed and despite the tremendous progress of Africa, we are only now asking to bring our athletes to that continent, which don’t forget has the largest number of young people from all over the world.

    “I am sure this event will open in the future the door to Africa to more important events, and the wish to host the Olympic Games in due time.”

    Senegal President Macky Sall speaks to IOC Session (ATR)
    The President of Senegal Macky Sall, who made the journey to Buenos Aires for the historic IOC decision, said: “Senegal and its young people are proud of the honor you have bestowed upon us, in entrusting the organization of the Youth Olympic Games 2022 to our country.

    “In fact, it is the whole of Africa, the birthplace of humankind through its history and the youngest continent through its demographics, which will welcome the young athletes of the world in 2022.”

    The IOC Executive Board proposed Senegal last month based on the IOC Evaluation Commission report overseen by vice-president Ugur Erdener. Nigeria, Botswana and Tunisia also put forward bids.

    One of the few IOC members to raise concern was Syrian Samih Moudallal, who questioned the economic risk, inflation and rate of unemployment in the western African nation.

    Erdener responded: “Senegal has a growing economy in Africa – it has a very good situation according to some of the financial figures raised in your questions.

    “For instance, in Botswana, a small country, there are some concerns, but in general the best [economic] conditions [in Africa] belong to Senegal."
    Dakar, Senegal (Wikimedia Commons)

    Erdener, who is also the chair of the IOC medical commission, advised that he doesn’t expect any health risk to athletes attending the Dakar Games.

    IOC Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi disclosed the budget for the Dakar YOG at $150 million.

    Dubi noted that, as is customary for any Youth Olympic Games, no new venues will be built. Relating to a new 50,000 capacity stadium being constructed in Dakar, the IOC official advised that the project is moving forward irregardless of the city hosting the YOG.

    “The great thing about the Youth Games is that we have flexibility, we can be creative,” Dubi told media at a news conference following the session. “We’ll have a program that is exciting one side and matches the requirements on the other side.”

    Showing unification across Africa, the three other parties who initially sought the YOG have all pledged their support to Senegal.

    “What is most encouraging is that four candidates are in agreement that the Games should go to one country,” said Sam Ramsamy, IOC member from South Africa. “I believe they will do an excellent job.”

    Numerous IOC members from the other continents expressed their approval with the unprecedented decision to take the YOG to Africa.

    “Senegal and Dakar is a natural first choice – this is a great choice to reach Africa,” said Israeli IOC member Alex Gilady.

    New United States Olympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland tweeted: “We offer congratulations to Senegal and all African nations as they begin their journey to host the 2022 Youth Olympic Games. What an awesome moment in Olympic history!”

    “The unity that is shown between all the African countries is the true power of sport,” said IOC Athletes Commission chair and Olympic swimming champion from Zimbabwe Kirsty Coventry.

    “We will stand next to you as you take on the journey, because your success is our success.”

    The Youth Olympics Games project is tied to the West African country’s overarching development strategy, notably the federal government’s “Emerging Senegal” Plan, which projects major economic and infrastructure development.

    Upon signing of the host contract in Buenos Aires, Senegal will enter a co-construction phase with the IOC to build the detailed Senegal 2022 Edition Plan.

    Written and reported by Brian Pinelli in Buenos Aires

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