For the first time, an Olympic event will be held in Africa following Monday’s vote by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to officially award the 2022 Youth Olympic Games to Dakar, Senegal.
The full IOC membership rubber-stamped an Executive Board decision made in September that the bid from Dakar would be the only project moved forward from among proposals by Gaborone in Botswana, Abuja in Nigeria and three sites including capital Tunis in Tunisia.
“At this very ceremonial moment for Africa, and in particular for Senegal, I wish to express on behalf of all Africans our gratitude and our recognition for choosing us,” President Macky Sall of Senegal told members at the Session ahead of their acclamation.
Those former rivals have committed their support for Senegal, and the Games are being touted as an event for all of Africa. Senegal’s proposal centres on three areas – the capital city of Dakar; the city of Diamniadio, and the coastal resort of Saly.
The Games concept, according to the report, is in line with the nation’s development plan that includes major economic and infrastructure improvements as part of an “Emerging Senegal” program.
Needed transportation upgrades, including a rail link, will be delivered for the Games. Athlete accommodations will be provided at a university campus outside of Dakar.
A new 50,000 seat Olympic stadium will be constructed and renovations will upgrade an additional existing stadium.
Africa had remained the only continent never to have hosted an Olympic-branded event after South America joined the other continents with Rio de Janeiro staging the 2016 Olympic Games, and the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) opening in Buenos Aires Saturday.
In February at the PyeongChang Winter Games, the IOC opened the door to Africa when it declared that only bids from that continent would be considered for 2022.
In a revised, shortened and cost-effective bid process, the IOC evaluation commission worked proactively and cooperatively with the projects to find the best value proposition.
Member of the IOC and President of Turkish Olympic Committee Uher Erdener led the Evaluation Commission and said non-traditional bid books were reviewed to discover only key information.
The IOC is expected to work integrally with the organizing committee in co-construction, especially in its early stages, in order to support a successful delivery of the Games.
The project is “not without challenges”, and “some challenges remain to be discussed,” Erdener told IOC members at the Buenos Aires Session.
“Senegal has one of the most stable economies in Africa,” he added.
He spoke of Senegal’s “large youth population” and said the Games would be a catalyst for engaging those young people.
The Games will be held between May and June 2022, during the dry season with the most optimal weather and “less tropical diseases.”
“It is not required to have a detailed budget at this stage,” Erdener said, “but the organizing committee is aware of the budget undertakings from previous Games.”
The Senegal government is expected to underwrite the cost of the Games with additional private and IOC financial support.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.