Youth Olympics delay presents 'unique opportunity' for Dakar
The four-year postponement of the Youth Olympic Games in Dakar, Senegal to 2026 gives the local organising committee a “unique opportunity to further optimise their delivery plans”, according to the International Olympic Committee’s coordination commission for the event.
The games, which were scheduled to be held in 2022, were postponed back in July after the IOC accepted a proposal from Senegal president Macky Sall for a delay, acknowledging that the preparations for the event, for athletes aged between 14 and 18, have been affected by the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics until 2021, the rescheduling of other major international events and “the operational and financial consequences of the global coronavirus health crisis.”
Dakar 2022 was set to be the first Olympic Games of any level on the African continent but Sall and IOC president Thomas Bach reiterated their confidence in the work carried out to date under Mamadou Diagna Ndiaye, the president of the organising committee and an IOC member.
The coordination commission for the Youth Olympics yesterday concluded two days of virtual meetings that focused on the progress being made by the local organising committee.
The meeting focused on the organising committee’s revised plans, which now cover a six-year span.
As part of these plans, the organising committee has established several working groups to “reduce the impact of postponement and strengthen its solidarity with the Olympic Movement and stakeholders.”
The working groups will “examine the new YOG delivery plan, which will identify different opportunities that align with Dakar 2026’s vision to create an event by, for and with the youth.”
Speaking after the meeting, Kirsty Coventry, the chair of the coordination commission, said: “We are encouraged to see the progress being made by the team in Dakar during what has been an incredibly difficult period.
“Dakar 2026 now have a unique opportunity to further optimise their delivery plans, implementing efficiencies that will deliver games fit for a post-corona world. It will be an event by, for and with the youth. Whilst the road may seem long and full of challenges, we look forward to supporting their efforts as part of a ‘one-team’ approach, focused on delivering the first Olympic event in Africa in six years’ time.”
The IOC said the optimisations are centred around training, engagement opportunities for local youngsters and transformation, through sport, of the cities, the country and, when possible, the African continent.
A notable aspect of the revised organisation is the approval of the ‘Edition Plan’ in July this year and the commitment to reach gender equality across all sports.
There will also be further integration of the recommendations outlined in the IOC's Olympic Agenda 2020 reforme programme and the ‘New Norm’, with Dakar 2026 and the IOC looking to work together “to deliver a YOG model that can be used as a blueprint for Senegal and for future hosts.”
In the lead-up to the Youth Olympics, the organising committee intends to carry out various education projects.
In postponing the Youth Olympics, the IOC cited “the large scale of the operational challenges which the IOC, the NOCs (national Olympic committees) and the IFs (international federations) are facing following the postponement of Tokyo 2020."
Bach welcomed the move as it removes the challenge of having to stage five Olympics in three years, which he admitted would have been “too heavy a workload for everybody.”
The inaugural Youth Olympics were held in Singapore in 2010, and there have been subsequent editions in Nanjing in China in 2014 and in Buenos Aires in Argentina in 2018.