African Olympic and sports movement, IOC president Thomas Bach speaks to Africa

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Dear President Berraf,

Dear Olympic Friends,

In today’s world, the power of sport to bring hope and optimism takes on even greater significance. The Olympic and sports community of Africa has always played an essential part in conveying this message. This is something that you, at ANOCA and the 54 African NOCs, and all your athletes can be extremely proud of.

You can be equally proud of your part in the success of the most recent editions of the Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022, thereby helping to write an extraordinary page of Olympic history. Held in unprecedented times, these Games showed the remarkable energy, resilience and can-do spirit of the athletes. They showcased this spirit to the world with their unforgettable Olympic performances despite a very challenging time for the preparation and training, sometimes in countries under lockdown. In fact, no matter what obstacles we might face, we can only go faster, we can only aim higher, we can only become stronger if we stand together – in solidarity. In these difficult times – with divisions and wars on the rise – we need this unifying power of sport to promote our Olympic values of peace and solidarity more than ever.

Together with all of you, at ANOCA, the IOC is ready to shape this new world with our shared Olympic values. This is why our Olympic Agenda 2020+5 is focused on strengthening the role of sport as an important enabler for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is great to see ANOCA engaging proactively with Olympism 365 – our framework in place to strengthen partnerships with NOCs and social development institutions in areas such as education, gender equality, climate action and many more.

In this way, we are joining hands to strengthen the role of sport in society, allowing us to even better pursue our shared mission to put sport at the service of humankind. 

That is why I would like to thank my dear colleague and friend Mustapha Berraf for his great leadership and  all the African NOCs and the ANOCA team, for demonstrating your untiring commitment to developing Olympic sport; keeping the Olympic spirit alive in the hearts of everyone on the African continent; and inspiring the next generation with the Olympic values of excellence, respect, friendship and solidarity.

It is your devotion and effort that enable your athletes to prepare for and achieve their Olympic dream, and thus continue to enrich the history of African sport. Like at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, where African athletes improved on the results at Rio 2016 with 11 gold medals. Or at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, where six athletes from five African countries were keen to not only take part but also showcase their progress and budding potential. Many of these athletes could achieve their dreams thanks to the support of ANOCA and Olympic Solidarity scholarships programmes, making these a success for the whole Olympic community.

With its strategic plan for the development of sport on the continent, ANOCA has another excellent tool in this respect. And this is even more important, with the Olympic Games Paris 2024 taking place in less than two years, and the Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026, the first Olympic competition on African soil. We will all work together for delivering a visionary, responsible and inspiring Youth Games not only for Senegal, the youth of the African continent but also for the youth of the world.  

For this reason, the unity, fraternity and solidarity of the African continent are more necessary than ever, and I urge you to continue your efforts in this area.  

In doing so, you can be sure that the IOC will always be there as your partner, so that together we can build the future of the Olympic and sports movement in Africa and see a new generation of African athletes shine on the sporting stage.

In this Olympic spirit, let us continue to work together for a better place through sport.

Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together.

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