The City of Dakar has just been awarded the organisation of the 2022 Youth Olympic Games. What does this IOC decision represent for the city, for the country and for the entire continent?
It was a great moment of joy for the City of Dakar and for Senegal to have been designated host of the 2022 Youth Olympic Games. We thank the International Olympic Committee for awarding this competition to Africa in 2022. Without this strong signal, the situation would have been difficult for Africa. The Senegalese people are aware of the challenge these Olympic Games represent for the City of Dakar and Senegal. People are so happy that they are committed to meet the challenges both of participation and organisation.
Sport is a universal language. What values do you think are carried through major sports events for the population, the spectators and the world watching them?
Major sporting events spread the values of peace, unity and the message that we can live with each other, the development of the world in unity. It is said that the world is a big village. I believe that Olympism allows us to meet, to commune with each other, and to magnify the beauty of sport.
The organisation is a challenge for every city hosting major international sporting events. For Africa, it’s the first time with these Olympics. How is Dakar preparing, on a more technical level, beyond an extremely enthusiastic population and an extremely motivated organising committee? How does the city turn on order to prepare these Games?
People are very motivated. Moreover, as you may have seen, the President of the Senegalese Republic has travelled in person to Buenos Aires, at the occasion of the latest Youth Olympic Games, to accompany the Mayor of Dakar. But the challenges mentioned earlier are twofold. There is the challenge of Dakar and Senegal AND there is the challenge of the African continent as a whole. As it is the first time that the Olympic Games are organised in Africa, Dakar has double the responsibility and the obligation to succeed with the organisation’s bet so that tomorrow African countries can have the courage to apply for the organisation of other international events. We have been told that the IAAF is ready to come to Africa to organise World Athletics championships and that other federations will follow. Dakar will serve as a guinea pig, and Dakar has the obligation to succeed with this organisation. Beyond Dakar, Senegal and Africa will support these Games, which will make them a success. We are trying to set high standards and we are aware of that. We will work together to meet these challenges.
What does your participation in the Annual Meeting of the World Union of Olympic Cities and in the Smart Cities & Sport Summit bring you in the perspective of organising the 2022 YOG?
As soon as we arrived at the Annual Meeting of Olympic Cities, people widely opened their arms. They are ready to accompany us, and they are ready to share their experiences so that Dakar can organize these Games. On the occasion of the Annual Meeting, we initiated contacts. With the Smart Cities & Sport Summit, we have made more contacts. I had the opportunity to meet the President of the IOC, I shook his hand, he was very happy to see that the City of Dakar had sent someone to participate in this Summit. Our presence at the event allowed us to make contacts, to listen to people and to put that in the toolbox of the organising committee so that the committee can work. No advice, no opinions will be too much. Dakar is ready to listen and share!