The 2022 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Dakar, Senegal, is the latest global sporting event to be pushed back because of the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, so as to avoid conflict with other major sporting events, some of which have been postponed as well, the games won’t be held before 2026.
In a teleconference exchange on Tuesday, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, of Germany, said the decision was made following a request from Senegal President Macky Sall amid
widespread disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The postponement of major events was causing a major cluster over the next three to four years, particularly as it relates to regional and international multi-sport games and events. The postponed Olympics and Commonwealth Youth Games are both set for 2021, the Commonwealth Games are in 2022, and the Pan American Games are in 2023. Following that, the Olympics return in 2024.
Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) President Romell Knowles said with the Youth Olympics being pushed back, this allows them to focus solely on the senior Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, next year.
“The Bahamas Olympic Committee certainly supports the reasoning behind the postponement of the Youth Olympics in that our energy and focus can now be on the senior Olympic Games which are in 2021,” said Knowles. “Trying to prepare for two major events back-to-back was going to be extremely challenging for us – operation wise. It would have been challenging for the other National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and international federations as well. This gives us an opportunity to fully prepare for the next Youth Olympics and to get our young athletes ready for the Olympic environment in a more conducive atmosphere in 2026.”
Dakar 2022, as the games were dubbed, was set to be the first Olympic Games, junior or senior, on the continent of Africa. That in itself, said Knowles, is a significant undertaking.
“I’m sure the city of Dakar and the country of Senegal were looking forward to this momentous occasion, but given everything that has happened in the world with the coronavirus, they could now focus their attention on what needs to be done in their home country without the pressure of staging a Youth Olympics,” said Knowles. “The sports calendar is really congested over the next few years. A lot of international federations had already adjusted their schedules, and asking them to adjust it again because of the youth games would have only made a complicated matter worse. We’re always looking for the best possible outcome in the best interest of our athletes and we feel that this is it. We support this move in the best interest of our athletes and in the best interest of our major stakeholders around the world.”
The decision to postpone the Youth Olympics to 2026 was approved by the IOC Executive Board during its latest meeting and will be given the green light by the 36th IOC Session, set to be held virtually today.
IOC President Bach said the Senegalese capital hosting the games would have meant they would have had to organize five major multi-sport games in three years. He said it’s already a strain because of the operational and financial consequences of the global health crisis.
Moving the Youth Olympics to 2026 means it will now be held the same year as the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
Bach said the IOC didn’t get to relay the message to postpone Dakar 2022 to the countries who had expressed interest in staging the 2026 Youth Games before making the announcement on Tuesday.
Colombia, India, Russia and Thailand had all entered into discussions with the IOC’s Future Host Commission over the hosting the games in 2026. Bach said those four nations would now be in a “privileged position” for 2030 and that he was “sure they will understand the situation.”
Meanwhile, Senegal President Sall said they will do all that they can, along with their partners, to ensure that Dakar 2026, the first Olympic event in Africa, will be a successful and memorable event.
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