At the eve of the XXXIInd edition of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, this is the message from ANOCA President, Mustapha BERRAF, to the great African Olympic family.
Heading for « Tokyo 2020 »
Dear members of the African Olympic Family, Ladies and Gentlemen.
In a few days, Tokyo, the beautiful Japanese city, will be hosting the greatest world sports event, the Winter Olympic Games which, as has been the case for many years now, will be followed as from the 24th of August, by the Paralympic Games in the same city. The effective hosting of these Games has been delayed for a long time due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This pandemic has brought the whole world in general and Africa in particular into dark and sad moments, into an uncertain, doubtful and perplex situation, halting many activity areas, especially very important groupings. In spite of that, sporting Africa remained stoic and dignified. Congratulations to all of us. Our athletes displayed a wonderful sense of commitment and determination. They kept the Olympic spirit alive in their hearts and their hopes to win a medal so as to proudly represent their country and the whole African continent.
In Tokyo, we will enjoy exceptional games thanks to protocols put in place by the organizing Committee aimed at staging secure games as far as health is concerned.
Needless to remind that the health context has obliged the International Olympic Committee to take a wise decision to postpone the Games this year, since they were scheduled for 2020. Tokyo which is eager to welcome the world sporting youths will be receiving thousands of Africans for the two events. These will include athletes, technicians and administrators. The continent will definitely be part of the game and intends to be ably represented and be at the heart of the event as our Olympic dream should enable us to go beyond the 45 medals won during the XXXIInd edition I am strongly confident and hopeful to share this wonderful dream with you.
The Olympic Games are a great gathering and represent more than a rush for medals. They are also an opportunity to magnify Olympic values; I therefore call on all Africans for a participation that really honours our continent within and outside playgrounds. As a real melting pot of all peoples of the world, this event is not only a rush of athletes for laurels and medals, but also and foremost an event where the values of ethics, fair-play, respect for the opponent, healthy lifestyle and modesty are put forward.
Africa’s participation to these Games will therefore be multifaceted. Beyond the fields of play, our continent should also show the world all its dynamism and its irreproachable behaviour. Fundamental values of Olympism which are friendship, respect and excellence should be the guiding principles for all competitors, officials and other administrators.
In order to carry out sponsoring process in favour of African athletes who will take part in the Tokyo Games, a commission called « ANOCA Commission for the sponsoring of Athletes» was set up in order to assess and monitor the implementation of the programme and advise our institution’s Executive Committee. Provided with adequate means, it has been relentlessly working since 2019 and has taken pragmatic action to improve African performances in Tokyo. The programme also provides support services to assist selected athletes in various ways.
I would like to take this opportunity to address two major components of Africa’s participation in these Games: I am referring to officials and athletes.
To you leaders of the African Olympic and sports movement, we came back happy from Rio in 2016 with our 45 medals. In Tokyo, our duty is to take good care of our youths in order to do even better than Rio. This supervision should however be guided by sound practices which would make our continent proud. This brings me to talk about the thorny issue of doping. A phenomenon that misrepresents the very essence of sport, while contributing to give a bleak image to sport, the athlete, his trainer, his country an even his continent of origin. There is no exhaustive list of doping substances; however, an increasing number of drugs used for particular diseases, are diverted from their initial role and consumed by athletes, especially substances that help to carry oxygen and increase the muscular mass.
During these games, the fight against doping should be a matter of each and everyone: athletes, trainers, officials… Each stakeholder in the African Olympic and Sports Movement must be fully aware of damages caused by this practice and contribute their own share for its eradication. This fight should trigger true mobilization, both at national and continental levels for a credible and honest participation of our continent in these Olympic and Paralympic Games; for we should always bear in mind that the fight against doping in sport is first and foremost an ethical issue.
To you, dear athletes, I can see this flame shining in you, this dream of any athlete, that of taking part one day in the Olympic Games and winning a few medals. In a few days, you will have this opportunity. Always keep in mind that our duty as sports leaders is to provide conditions which will enable you to make your dream come true and to display your full potential when the time comes. In a few hours, the whole of Africa will be watching you, to support you so that success comes for all of us; the success of living a unique experience, of participating at an event which brings together peoples from the whole world in peace and friendship, where Olympic values are always shared among men and women of goodwill. You have to be up to the stakes and expectations. Japanese land is promised to you for a wonderful sports adventure; another that will create emulation, and above all, make the whole planet proud.
Dear members of the African Olympic and Sports family, Ladies and Gentlemen, our continent’s participation in these Olympic and Paralympic Games should be made in the best honourable way. Let’s deserve our role as youth’s supervisers. Let’s also be with our athletes participating in the Paralympic Games. This event which was launched in 1960 is organized with the aim of considering the human being in his entire potentials and to give him the place he deserves in a society where there is no more disability. This is also to give physically and mentally disabled athletes to achieve the same exploits as those of healthy athletes.
A few days from the opening of the great Olympic feast in Tokyo, let’s wish all African athletes who will represent our continent, a memorable experience which, beyond competitions where some outstanding performances will be achieved, will enable them to discover new cultures, languages and usages, and to share and discover Olympic values.
I wish you all a happy sports feast and the best for new performances.