AFRICAN YOUTH GAMES: ADDIS ABABA takes the baton for 2022

The ANOCA Executive Committee met by videoconference on 29 September 2020. The meeting, which was also open to the honourable IOC members and Presidents of the Statutory Commissions, made some far reaching resolutions.

Worthy of note is the fact that the 5th African Youth Games will be hosted by the city of Maseru, Lesotho in 2026.

Previously awarded the 2022 games, the Maseru organisers said they had difficulties to live up to their commitments on the dates and conditions initially set for the African Youth Games.

The decision follows sustained discussions that led to a compromise between ANOCA and the Government of Lesotho.

The postponement decision was indeed jointly discussed again between the President of ANOCA, the Minister representing the Government of Lesotho, the NOC and the Lesotho Organising Committee.

Lesotho officials mentioned economic difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and did not confirm whether they could organise the Games in 2022.

That is how the possibility of entrusting the 2022 event to the city of Addis Ababa came to be considered. The games were thus awarded based on the commitment of the Ethiopian government to host them in very good conditions. The Executive Committee unanimously approved this proposal with the exception of the Zone 6 President. 

However, a team of ANOCA experts will go to Addis Ababa for an inspection tour, in order to evaluate the level of preparedness and organisational capacity.

The African Youth Games are a sporting event reserved for athletes aged 15 to 18, and are now considered a major international event. They have been held since 2010, starting with Morocco, which hosted the maiden edition, followed by Botswana in 2014 and Algeria in 2018. The latter positioned itself as the voice of African youth and put in a lot of resources for the success of these Games, which recorded 3,500 participants.

Ethiopia therefore replaces Lesotho for the fourth edition, while the latter will host the fifth edition in 2026, in Maseru. It should be noted that the Maseru event will act as qualifiers for the Youth Olympic Games in Dakar, Senegal.  The latter were also postponed because of the health crisis due to the coronavirus.

When Morocco hosted the maiden African Youth Games from 13 to 18 July 2010, the event brought together 1,000 athletes aged 13 to 17 years. 33 African NOCs out of 53 existing at that time were present. During the last edition in 2018, Algeria hosted all the 54 NOCs.

The African Youth Games are an initiative of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, and aim at showcasing Africa’s talents and culture.

In 2020, the modernized vision of ANOCA aims, through these games, to inculcate in young athletes the values of solidarity and healthy competition, which are the cornerstone of the universality of Olympism. The 2022 Games awarded to Ethiopia are meant not to deprive African youth of a major competition so that they should not be downcast by devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

For ANOCA President, Mustapha Berraf, young African athletes must be protected by affording them the opportunity to attain different sporting levels without difficulty. The African Youth Games in Addis Ababa in 2022 thus fulfil the mission of overcoming the terrible pandemic and giving hope to Africa’s sporting youth, who are also bracing for the 2026 Youth Olympic Games in Dakar. The vacuum is thus filled and the objective of maintaining the values of peace, tolerance, solidarity and fraternity remains the fundamental principle which, through sports performances, will be the pride of the African continent. It is a whole generation of athletes who will have the opportunity to participate in a major event that will allow them to test their abilities in the field of sports and exchange their diverse cultures.

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