In 2026, Senegal will become the first country in Africa to host an Olympic event, when the Summer Youth Olympics will take place in Dakar. Initially set for 2022, the world’s most important sporting tournament for teenagers has been pushed back on account of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The YOG was added to the Olympics in 2010 to give younger athletes ages 14 to 18 the chance to compete.
When the Youth Olympic Games were held in Buenos Aires in 2018, more than 4,000 athletes from 260 countries participated.
Despite the delay, Senegalese leaders are excited to be the first African country to host the YOG but also understand that there is a great deal of responsibility that comes with it.
“There are expectations from the whole African continent , and Senegal has to organise games that would live up to the standards of previous Youth Olympics . And because of that, Senegal is going to make sure its a success and serves as a catalyst for mobilizing and engaging Senegalese youth in particular, and African youth in general,” Babacar Makhtar Wade, president of the Senegal Judo Federation, told Voice of America.
Wade, who is also treasurer of the Senegal National Olympic and Sports Committee, says officials are already planning renovations for the games.
“We are planning to first renovate three main venues — the Iba Mar Diop Stadium, which will host track, rugby, and other sports. There’s also our Olympic pool, which needs to be renovated. It has an adjacent park, which will host a few events such as the BMX freestyle, basketball 3 on 3, and hockey games. And there is also the Caserne Samba Diery Diallo, where the equestrian-related activities will take place,” he adds.
In addition, Wade says there will be venues outside of Senegal’s capital city that will host beach volleyball, boating, and other events.
Just outside of Dakar in the city of Diamniadio, a 50,000-seat multipurpose stadium is currently being constructed. Senegal President Macky Sall says the stadium will be available for future local and international competitions.