Dakar’s staging of the Youth Olympic Games has been pushed back four years from 2022 to 2026 after an agreement was reached between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the local organising committee in the Senegalese capital.
The move will allow the IOC, National Olympic Committees and International Federations to better plan for the Games, with preparations having been disrupted by the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics until next year due to COVID-19, and the further upheaval this has caused to the global sporting calendar.
Senegal President Macky Sall’s proposal to postpone the Games has been welcomed by IOC president Thomas Bach. Both Sall and Bach have renewed their confidence in Dakar 2022 president Mamadou Diagna Ndiaye, the IOC’s member in Senegal.
The Games will mark the first ever Olympic event in Africa. A new 50,000-capacity venue, the Stade du Sénégal, is being built in Diamniadio, some 30km from Dakar, and will serve as the centrepiece of the Games. Work commenced on the stadium back in February.
The stadium will also feature two training grounds, one of which will be equipped with an athletics track and a 2,000-seat grandstand. The €238m (£216m/$271m) project will source its energy needs entirely from a solar power plant, with Turkish construction company Summa landing the contract to develop it in January.
Following the postponement, Bach said that hosting the YOG in 2022 would have meant having to “master five Games in just three years and this was really too heavy a workload for everybody”.
Bach added: “This amicable agreement illustrates the mutual trust between Senegal and the IOC. I would like to express my sincere thanks to President Macky Sall, a great friend and supporter of the Olympic Movement, for this exceptional relationship of trust and quality. For all these reasons, I am sure that, together, we will organise fantastic Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026 for Senegal, the entire African continent and all the young athletes of the world.”
Sall added: “I would like to reiterate that the IOC has my full support for the organisation of the Youth Olympic Games, postponed to 2026. I take this opportunity to reaffirm my confidence in the Executive Board and welcome the commitment of its teams, working side by side with us, to make Dakar 2026, the first Olympic event in Africa, a successful and memorable occasion.”
Senegal has a large youth population and views the YOG as a catalyst for engaging young people and developing the country’s sport and youth policy. The country was awarded the Games in October 2018.
Bach insisted that a similar four-year postponement is not on the cards for the Tokyo Olympics, which will go ahead as planned in 2021.