Africa is a youthful continent, boasting the world’s largest population of 200 million people aged between 15 and 24. It is only right to give this population the opportunity to host one of the biggest global youth events, the Youth Olympic Games.
Members of the International Olympic Committee unanimously recommended Senegal to host the 2022 Youth Olympic Games, shrugging off the competition from Nigeria, Botswana and Tunisia. A vote will still take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, in October, but this is considered to be a formality.
In February 2018, the IOC’s president, Thomas Bach, said that the executive board wanted the 2022 Youth Olympics to be held in Africa, a recommendation that was confirmed by IOC membership days later.
Senegal’s capital city, Dakar, will share the games with Diamniadio and Saly.
There is no doubt that a sporting event of this magnitude can be a powerful tool for economic development, if the right strategies are in place. These are some of the considerations that would ensure a win for Africa:
The media industry
This could be a great opportunity for African media houses to make themselves more visible on the international news scene. In four weeks, so much can be done through media to leave an indelible mark in the global media arena. The digital era offers endless possibilities. Media should think beyond its domain and consider the economy, culture and identity of African people.
This would be a great time to sell who Africa is – when a large chunk of the world’s population will be focused on us. How much does Senegal stand to earn from the rights to broadcast the Youth Olympics and how can this be tightly controlled to ensure more benefits for the host country? The Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games of 1984 offers a good case study for an excellent and profitable media plan.
Senegal hopes to achieve the national government’s Emerging Senegal plan, which envisions major economic and infrastructure improvements. Not only will the hosting of the Youth Olympics help with infrastructure development but it will also create employment for the youth, feeding into the country’s development plan. It is important to consider how this development can remain sustainable after the games. The newly built buildings and stadiums should not be allowed to become ghosts after the games. A plan must be put in place to ensure value addition to these projects so that their benefit will last well beyond the games.
Volunteerism is big at events such as the Olympics, as was seen in the London and Australia Olympics, where thousands of volunteers helped make them a success. Africa will have to give its young people a place at the decision-making table for these games. Their exposure and ability to successfully execute this mandate will make the continent able to compete in other international spaces.
Young people should not only be volunteers but be given the opportunity to be decision makers, planners and the executionists of tasks crucial to the successful hosting of the Youth Olympic Games. It is Africa’s time – let us make this count.