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31 May 2007
IOC News

Africa: A development priority for the IOC

African athletes have written some of the most beautiful pages in the Olympic sports history. The IOC wishes today to pay tribute to all the efforts that have been deployed by the African sporting authorities to promote elite, but also grassroots, sports and to continue to support these efforts. Africa is a number-one priority for the IOC sports development programmes. Here is the main message delivered by the IOC President, Jacques Rogge, during his journey to South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia and Zambia. During his trip, President Rogge was accompanied by Lassana Palenfo, IOC member and President of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) and Sam Ramsamy, IOC Executive Board member.
South Africa: a successful sporting country
In South Africa, the base camp of his trip, the IOC President was welcomed by the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Makhenkesi Stofile and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, chaired by Moss Mashishi. Two days after he met former President Nelson Mandela, President Rogge was received by his successor as President of the Republic of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki. Their discussion centred on the IOC support for development and the benefit of young people; as well as on the increase of racism in sport. Also on the presidential programme was a tour through Soweto and, upon invitation, a visit to the headquarters of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa, SAFA 2010, which updated the IOC delegation on the status of the preparations. The IOC delegation also met several Olympic medallists during a reception.
An Olympafrica Centre in Lesotho
In Maseru, in Lesotho, known as the Kingdom in the Mountains, the IOC President was received at the Royal Palace by His Majesty King Letsie III, the only African Head of State who has been to Switzerland and has specifically requested to visit the Lausanne Olympic Museum. He also met with the Prime Minister, Pakalitha Bathuel Mosisili. Two common subjects on the agenda of these meetings were the promotion of women through sport - Lesotho was one of the first African NOCs to elect a woman as President (Matlohang Moiloa-Ramoqopo) – and the role of sport as a tool for social improvement and human well-being. This is exactly what the Lepereng Olympafrica Centre, opened officially by Lassana Palenfo and President Rogge, is aiming for. By enabling NOCs to develop basic and low-cost sports infrastructures, they will foster interest in sport and the participation of young people in the local community. This Centre also includes cultural and medical facilities where youngsters can come together, play and learn.
A stopover in Namibia
On 28 May, the IOC delegation made a one-day trip to Windhoek. If Namibia is well known in the world, it’s maybe thanks to an athlete who became a true role model for young people and one of the best ambassadors of Africa: Frankie Fredericks. Retired from the Olympic track in 2004, after four Olympic silvers won in the 100m and 200m at the 1992 and 1996 Games, Fredericks is now giving to sport what sport has given to him through his dedicated work as an IOC member and a member of the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission. Namibia is also one of the 10 NOCs chaired by a woman, Agnes Tjongarero, who was the first ever woman to be elected to the ANOCA Executive Board as fourth Vice-President. In Windhoek, the IOC delegation had the opportunity to meet with President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Prime Minister Nahas Angula and NOC officials.  The last leg of this African trip led the IOC delegation to Zambia for the launch of the ‘Sport for Hope’ project.

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