Senegal’s YOG athletes excited by Dakar 2022
As the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 draw to a close, attention will soon be turning to the next edition of the Summer YOG, which will be held in Dakar in 2022.
And, while the Senegalese capital begins its preparations for the Games, the country’s representatives at Buenos Aires 2018 are already looking forward to seeing the unique YOG atmosphere come to life in their home nation in four years’ time.
“It will be an experience of a lifetime for the young Senegalese athletes because it will be held in our own country,” explained sprinter Maty Diop, who finished 23rd in the women’s 100m in Buenos Aires. “I have loved taking part in these Games; I have really enjoyed my time here, particularly being able to meet lots of people from around the world. It is a big honour for Senegal to be the host country of the next Youth Olympic Games.”
While Diop will be too old to compete at the YOG Dakar 2022, she is still hoping to be involved in the Games in some capacity and would love the opportunity to share what she has learnt in Buenos Aires with the young athletes of Senegal.
“I really hope that I can use my experience here to become a role model for the next generation,” said the 17-year-old. “I will tell everyone to be well prepared, especially the young athletes taking part because they will have to work very hard.”
Swimmer Amadou Ndiaye, who carried the Senegalese flag at the Buenos Aires 2018 Opening Ceremony before competing in the men’s 400m and 800m freestyle events, also revealed his pride at the opportunity for Dakar to host the YOG.
“It is going to be very motivating for the young athletes and I'm very proud of Senegal hosting the Games,” he said. “For me, it's been a very beautiful experience here. The ambiance is so cool and the people are awesome. Everyone in Senegal is very generous and very welcoming as well, so I think this is very good, and everything in Senegal – the scenery – is very beautiful.”
It’s not just the athletes who are looking forward to hosting the YOG in Dakar, however, with Senegal’s Young Change-Maker in Buenos Aires, Babacar Dieng, also excited to see his country – and Africa as a whole – enjoy the benefits of the event.
“I hope it will have a great impact on African sport and for our young athletes,” he said. “They will have modern infrastructure to practise their sport, and being with other athletes from all over the world will show them the techniques they have to use. It will be a great experience for them, and something that I hope will improve them.”
Dakar was announced as the host city of the 4th Summer YOG during the IOC Session in Buenos Aires on 8 October. Botswana, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia had all shown interest in hosting the Games, with the IOC Evaluation Commission and the Executive Board determining that Dakar, Senegal, presented the best value proposition and the greatest opportunities at this moment it time.
With a large youth population, Senegal views the YOG as a catalyst for engaging young people and developing the country’s sport and youth policy. Significant investments are already being made toward youth and sport as part of the country’s overarching framework “Plan Sénégal émergent”, which sets out the Senegalese President’s vision to 2035. The competitions and activities will be held across three cities, showing the many facets of Senegal: the historic capital of Dakar; the new city of Diamniadio; and the natural beauty of Saly on the coast.
“We’re glad to host the next YOG, and we’re so excited for 2022,” added Dieng. “We’ve already started building venues, and we will show the beauty of Africa to the whole world.”
And when today’s Closing Ceremony brings Buenos Aires 2018 to an end, the world can truly begin looking forward to experiencing that beauty, as the countdown to Dakar 2022 really begins.