Senegal is set to become the first African nation to host an Olympic Games after the nation was chosen Friday as the sole remaining candidate bidding for the 2022 Summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
“It is time for Africa,” International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said.
“Africa is the home of many successful and prominent Olympic athletes. Africa is a continent of youth. That is why we want to take the Youth Olympic Games 2022 to Africa and to Senegal.
The IOC Session in Buenos Aires in October is expected to rubber-stamp the choice.
In February the IOC decided that it will focus on siting the 2022 edition of the Games in Africa, allowing only nations from that continent to bid. The organization also built a more collaborative Games organization process that kicks off with a co-construction phase where IOC experts can work closely with local officials to set the project on the right track. The host will have less than four years to prepare, less than the seven traditionally budgeted for the Games.
The IOC’s Executive Board chose Senegal from among four prospects including Gaborone in Botswana, Abuja in Nigeria and three sites including capital Tunis in Tunisia, and based its decision on an Evaluation Commission report by a committee led by IOC Vice President Uğur Erdener.
Tunisia’s bid, however, was suspended for a period during the campaign before officials in the country agreed to let Israeli athlete’s compete at international sporting events without discrimination.
“The IOC was fortunate to have four quality partners representing the African continent in the YOG 2022 Host Selection Process. All four candidates have the capability of delivering successful Youth Olympic Games and offer many opportunities,” Erdener said.
But the Executive Board, in a statement confirmed that “Senegal offers a strong project and the greatest opportunities at this moment in time.”
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.
“They have offered a project based on a strong vision for youth and sport. There are many opportunities, and we will endeavour to deliver together, as part of a strong partnership, visionary, responsible and inspiring Youth Games,” Bach said.
Africa remains as the only continent to never host the pinnacle Olympic Games, but it is hoped the YOG will become a stepping-stone to a future Summer Olympics. Cape Town in South Africa bid and placed third in the race to host the 2004 edition that was won by Athens.
The 2018 Youth Olympics will be staged in Buenos Aires in October with the next Winter edition set to be hosted in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2020.