International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said Thursday that dialogue with the Tunisian National Olympic Committee (NOC) regarding Capital Tunis’ interest in hosting the 2022 Youth Olympics has been suspended.
The IOC Executive Board announced that Tunis along with Gaborone in Botswana, Abuja in Nigeria and Dakar in Senegal have met the deadline to continue discussions with interest in hosting the first Olympic event ever on the African continent.
But last month a Tunisian court banned four Israeli athletes from competing at the Taekwondo World Junior Championships after a group of activists opposed to ties with Israel filed an urgent injunction. The action by a group known as the National Commission for Supporting Arab Resistance and Opposing Normalisation and Zionism prevented the athletes from competing at the event in Hammamet in early April.
Bach assured that the IOC has taken a hard line against the discrimination explaining “The courts [in Tunisia] would not allow Israeli athletes to participate in a Taekwondo competition.”
“As a result, the IOC which had an interest from Tunisia and the Tunisian NOC to be a candidate for the Youth Olympic Games 2022 which will take place in Africa … as a result of this court decision the IOC is freezing all the contacts with Tunisia concerning this candidature for the Youth Olympic Games.”
In a statement, the IOC said it “will delay further evaluation of the [Tunis] proposal until the NOC can provide sufficient guarantees from government authorities to ensure that all athletes in all sports competitions will be accepted, according to the principles of non-discrimination in the Olympic Charter.”
The remaining three candidates will continue with the dialogue phase, and an IOC panel is expected to visit the cities for discussions later this month. In July the IOC will invite qualified candidates to continue with the process, with a winner to be confirmed at the October IOC Session in Buenos Aires ahead of the Youth Games.
An Evaluation Commission is Chaired by Ugur Erdener, an IOC Member from Turkey, and he will lead an experienced team of members in assisting and guiding the selection process to elect the host for 2022. The Commission is expected to recommend a single potential host to the Executive Board for endorsement, and the IOC Session would then rubber-stamp the choice.
The IOC decided in PyeongChang in February that the organization would proactively seek an African host for the Games, and exclude bids from other continents. In the process, the Youth Games model will be retooled for future years. The IOC is expecting to work more closely with the chosen host city in order to increase chances for success.