Amid disruptions to international sports calendars due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided to postpone the 2022 Youth Olympic Games – already scheduled to take place in Dakar, Senegal – to 2026.
The decision was announced Wednesday by IOC President Thomas Bach following an Executive Board meeting after he received the request by Senegal President Macky Sall to consider the postponement.
The decision by Executives requires rubber-stamp approval from the IOC Session set to take place Friday.
Dakar was awarded the quadrennial event in 2018 positioning Senegal as the first African nation to host any Olympic event. The YOG is open to youth between the ages of 14 and 18.
In a statement, the IOC said “the postponement of Dakar 2022 allows the IOC, the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and the International Federations (IFs) to better plan their activities, which have been strongly affected by the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, by the subsequent postponements of major international sports events, and by the operational and financial consequences of the global health crisis.”
Bach added while speaking to reporters in a teleconference that Dakar hosting the Games in 2022 “would have meant we would have had to organize five Games in three years.”
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been delayed until 2021 due to the international health crisis, and officials remain concerned that the later date may still be at risk. Beijing is set to host the Winter Games in February 2022, while in 2024 Gangwon in South Korea will host the Winter Youth Olympics and Paris is set to host the Summer Games.
The Dakar postponement will mean that an entire Summer Youth Olympics cycle will be missed, and current bids focused on the 2026 event will be forced to change trajectories.
In May, Bangkok and Chonburi Province in Thailand put forward a 2026 Youth Olympics bid, and India and Colombia were also in the running for those same Games.
Bach said “unfortunately we did not have the time to discuss with these national Olympic committees or cities that have shown great interest in the 2026 YOG, which we greatly appreciate.
“Of course they will be in 2030 in a privileged position having been in a dialogue with us [for 2026].”
“I’m sure they will understand this situation.”
Senegal President Macky Sall said “I would like to reiterate that the IOC has my full support for the organisation of the Youth Olympic Games, postponed to 2026.
“I take this opportunity to reaffirm my confidence in the Executive Board and welcome the commitment of its teams, working side by side with us, to make Dakar 2026, the first Olympic event in Africa, a successful and memorable occasion”
The first Youth Olympics were staged in Singapore in 2010, and was most recently staged in Buenos Aires in 2018.