The four-year postponement of the Youth Olympic Games in Senegal has given the IOC and Dakar 2026 a great opportunity to follow the old saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.
Since the delay to the YOG was announced last year, the IOC and local organizers have been trying to make the most of the additional time by creating opportunities that will mobilize the young people of Senegal around the values of “teranga”, the country’s distinct brand of respect and hospitality.
The first sports development initiatives, as well as updates on the status of ongoing renovation and construction work, were the focus of the third Coordination Commission meeting for Dakar 2026 which was held virtually on October 15.
The CoComm unanimously supported the Dakar 2026 plan for the first initiatives to hit the ground in the first half of 2022.
A task force, made up of teams from the IOC and Dakar 2026, plus local stakeholders (the Senegalese Ministries of Youth, Sport and Education), is working to identify the initial activities to be launched. Next month, an IOC delegation will travel to Senegal for working meetings with Dakar 2026; these will serve as an opportunity to exchange ideas with all the stakeholders involved in the YOG.
“The new calendar offers unprecedented opportunities for Senegal and Africa. These first Games in Africa will be exemplary in a number of ways. The pre-Games phase will identify opportunities to boost the Senegalese sports sector ahead of the YOG. Games legacy preparations are already underway through concrete action on the ground,” said the Coordination Commission chair Kirsty Coventry.
During the CoComm meeting, the Dakar 2026 teams delivered a status update on venue renovation and construction. The sites undergoing renovation are Iba Mar Diop Stadium, the Caserne Samba Diery Diallo equestrian centre, and the Tour de l’Oeuf complex, which will house the Olympic pool. The planning studies are currently being conducted with the renovation work scheduled to start in late 2022.
The construction of Amadou Mahtar Mbow University (UAM), the future Youth Olympic Village, is progressing smoothly, in line with the timetable given to the IOC.
There are 28 sports on the program for Dakar 2026, plus seven additional sports that were proposed by organizers (baseball5, breaking, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing and wushu). The Games will be held across three host sites, Dakar, Diamniadio and Saly. The official dates have yet to be decided.