Waiting for the games
Mamadou Diagna Ndiaye, President of the Senegalese National Sports and Olympic Committee (CNOSS), and member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), travels the world with tenacity and enthusiasm. Especially since 2018, when Dakar was declared host city of the next Youth Olympic Games (YOG) to be held in 2026. The stakes are high. It's a historic moment. It will be the first time that Africa will host an Olympic event.For Diagna, as he is called by those close to him, the aim is to pool energies, forge partnerships and ensure that the organization of such a global event is up to the task. The President of the republic, Macky Sall was personally involved in the bid, traveling to Buenos Aires to defend it. Since then, the palace has been closely monitoring the progress of the project. The YOG were initially scheduled for 2022, but the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the timetable: with the Tokyo Games postponed to summer 2021, and the Paris Games set for summer 2024, the need to maintain a two-year gap between each Olympic competition had to be taken into account. But with this gap, Dakar will also benefit from the experience of Paris 2024.
A formal partnership, the Alliance Jokko, has been established between the organizing committees of the two events, along with the Agence française de développement (AFD), the city of Paris, the Île-de-France region, the Institut national du sport, de l'expertise et de la performance (INSEP), and others. "Sport is in our DNA," stresses Ibrahima Wade, President of the Dakar 2026 Organizing Committee. Young athletes from all over the world will gather at three venues: Dakar, Diamniadio and Saly. This will be an opportunity for Senegal to show its best side: new infrastructures, the TER (express train from Dakar to Diamniadio, the Blaise Diagne airport, the Dakar Arena and the Abdoulaye Wade stadium. Road infrastructure is underway to ease the country's notoriously chaotic traffic flow. All of this planning and efforts should ultimately benefit the country's youth. A legacy and a challenge. In Senegal, over 60% of the population is under 25. And these young people, often living in precarious conditions, are looking for mobilizing projects and social involvement. The countdown is definitely on. And the new team to emerge from next February's presidential election will have to tackle the challenge head-on.