BUENOS AIRES. — The International Olympic Committee has picked its first African host of any Olympics, formally awarding the 2022 Youth Games to Senegal.
Senegal President Macky Sall was present on Monday to see International Olympic Committee members confirm the executive board’s preference from four candidates. Senegal will host the youth games in three places: Dakar; a new city of Diamniadio, close to the capital; and the coastal resort of Saly.
Sall said a 50 000-seat Olympic Stadium will be built for the government-backed project.
The games budget is estimated at $150 million, the IOC executive director of Olympic Games, Christophe Dubi, said at a news conference.
Senegal’s games are likely to be held in late May. This would be at the end of the dry season to “greatly reduce the prevalence of tropical diseases,” IOC vice-president Ugur Erdener told the membership.
Erdener pointed to Senegal’s “booming economy” and better conditions than the other bidders from Botswana, Nigeria and Tunisia. The construction project includes a rail link and an athletes village which will become university accommodation.
“It is not required to have a detailed budget at this stage,” Erdener said, though noting that Senegal’s government has “full understanding of the magnitude” of its task. One IOC member from Africa said the whole continent would share the responsibility of its first Olympics, comparing it to soccer’s 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
“In Africa, when a family organises a party all the neighbours chip in and they help organising the event,” said Lydia Nsekera of Burundi, who also sits on FIFA’s ruling council, responding to a fellow IOC member’s question about Senegal’s economic indicators. “It doesn’t matter, everyone will be there to help President Macky Sall organise and stage these games.”
Nsekera is a candidate to lead the African group of national Olympic bodies, ANOCA, in an election next month.
The 2022 decision was taken at a two-day IOC meeting on the sidelines of the Buenos Aires Youth Olympics.
Senegal is a small country located on the coast of West Africa with a total population of 14.3 million (based on a 2016 census). The country peacefully gained its independence from France in 1960, and is a secular, French-speaking nation.