On Friday the 7th of September 2018, the International Olympic Committee announced that the fourth edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games in 2022 was to be held in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal. This forthcoming Olympic event will mark the first time an African nation will host an Olympic game since the modern Olympics began in 1986.
In February of this year, the current president of the International Olympic Committee, former Olympic fencer Thomas Bach stated that the Executive Board were pushing for the next Summer Youth Olympics to be held in an African nation. With a population of 200 million young people aged between 15 and 24 Africa is a landscape permeated with the vibrancy of youth which is arguably one of the reasons that the International Olympic Committee, the IOC, came to the decision to host the 2022 Youth Olympic Games in Africa. Speaking on the committee’s decision to host the games in Africa, Bach declared that “It’s time for Africa. Africa is the home of so very many successful Olympic athletes. It is also the continent of youth.”
The first Youth Olympic Games took place in 2010 with Singapore as the inaugural host, but the idea came about some 12 years before in 1998. The concept was conceived by Johann Rosezopf as an attempt to tackle growing rates of childhood obesity and dropping participation in sport. However, the idea wasn’t to move forward as simply a sporting event, and so the idea to integrate cultural education and exchange amongst young people led to formal plans released in 2007 for the first Summer Youth Olympic Games.
As well as Senegal, Nigeria, Tunisia and Botswana were also in the running to host these games. Both Nigeria and Botswana had strong propositions, with Nigeria being the most populous country in Africa, bidding for Abuja to host the games. Botswana, despite being the smallest of the four candidates, was also a strong contender having hosted the second African Youth Games in 2014 in its capital and largest city Gaborone.
Senegal was ultimately successful, and the decision to host the games in the capital of Dakar coincides with the ongoing developments in the ‘Emerging Senegal’ plans.
Officially titled The Plan for Emerging Senegal (PES), the plans refer to the new policy framework of Senegalese President Macky Sall’s government which aims to get Senegal on its way to development by 2035. The aims of the PES are centred around bringing about a structural transformation of the economy, promoting human capital and enabling good governance.
The upcoming Youth Olympic Games will perceivably prove advantageous as not only will it engage young people in active voluntary and paid work, but as is the case with host cities of Olympic events, the new buildings and stadiums offer opportunities for sustainable initiatives.
The official vote for Senegal will take place in October this year in Buenos Aires where the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics will be held, but it is simply a formality, as Senegal begins to prepare for the near future.