By Justin Kor in Buenos Aires
More than a century after the modern Olympics’ flame was first lit, the Games will now head to the cradle of humankind: Africa.
The Olympic Games will make its debut in Africa after Senegal was confirmed as the host of the next edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in 2022.
At the 133rd International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session held in Buenos Aires, IOC president Thomas Bach officially conferred the honours to Senegal after the committee made a unanimous decision to bring the Games to Africa.
“Africa is united behind Senegal to host the Youth Olympic Games 2022. With a young population and a passion for sport, it is time for Africa, it is time for Senegal,” he said.
Senegal, also known as the ‘Gateway of Africa, beat out its regional rivals Botswana, Nigeria and Tunisa to clinch the honours. The Games will be spread out over three cities: The capital city of Dakar; a new city of Diamniadio; and the coastal resort of Saly.
The IOC had noted that Senegal’s bid was in line with the national government’s strategic Emerging Senegal Plan, which aims to makes vast economic and infrastructure improvements in the country. The plan also included large investments into developing youth and sports.
“It’s about time that Africa host an Olympic event as I have always believed that for universality, we must go to Africa,” said IOC member Ng Ser Miang, who was on the IOC Executive Board which made the decision to propose Senegal as the hosts.
“We have every confidence that Senegal will do a good job. I am particularly pleased with Senegal as Dakar had hosted our YOG flame in 2010,” he added.
It is fitting that the YOG will move to Africa, which has never hosted an Olympic event before. The world’s second largest continent is also its youngest, with 60 per cent of the African population under the age of 25.
Addressing the IOC, Senegalese President Macky Sall said: “Senegal and its youth are proud of the honour conferred upon us to stage the YOG in 2022. Your decision is unprecedented in the history of the Olympic Games. It pays tribute to our continent and our country.”
Speaking to the Singapore National Olympic Council, Senegal National Olympic and Sports Committee President Mamadou Ndiaye played down the country’s win, declaring the decision as a triumph for the African continent instead.
“I’m very proud that Africa is hosting the Olympics for the first time. It is not a Senegal victory. I think it’s the victory of all Africans,” he said, adding that they will be taking inspiration from previous host cities like Singapore and Nanjing in organising the Games.
“I hope that the world can also take Senegal as a reference for future Games as well.”