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IOC picks Senegal as first African host for Youth Olympics

The Associated Press
IOC picks Senegal as first African host for Youth Olympics

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA — The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has picked its first African host of any Olympics, formally awarding the 2022 Youth Games to Senegal.

Senegal President Macky Sall was present recently to see IOC members confirm the executive board’s preference from four candidates.

Senegal will host the youth games in three places: Dakar; a new city of Diamniadio, close to the capital; and the coastal resort of Saly.

Sall said the government-backed project will build a 50,000-seat Olympic Stadium.

The games will be held in May or June, at the end of the dry season to “greatly reduce the prevalence of tropical diseases,” IOC vice-president Ugur Erdener told the membership.

Erdener pointed to Senegal’s “booming economy” and better conditions than the other bidders from Botswana, Nigeria and Tunisia.

The construction project includes a rail link and an athletes’ village which will become university accommodation.

“It is not required to have a detailed budget at this stage,” Erdener said, though noting that Senegal’s government has “full understanding of the magnitude” of its task.

One IOC member from Africa said the whole continent would share the responsibility of its first Olympics, comparing it to soccer’s 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

“In Africa, when a family organizes a party all the neighbours chip in and they help organizing the event,” said Lydia Nsekera of Burundi, who also sits on FIFA’s ruling council, responding to a fellow IOC member’s question about Senegal’s economic indicators.

“It doesn’t matter, everyone will be there to help President Macky Sall organize and stage these games.”

Nsekera is a candidate to lead the African group of national Olympic bodies, ANOCA, in an election next month.

The 2022 decision was taken at a two-day IOC meeting on the sidelines of the Buenos Aires Youth Olympics.

In reports by past and future Olympic organizing committees about their work, the Pyeongchang Winter Games reported an operating profit of $55 million.

Pyeongchang organizing president Lee Hee-beom said the games in South Korea beat its target from sponsorship and donations, and raised almost $1 billion.

The IOC executive board has agreed to give its share of the surplus to sports in South Korea.

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