Dakar 2022 Youth Olympics to feature total gender equality

New sports and events, such as beach wrestling, will make their Olympic debuts in the Senegalese capital.

By ZK Goh

There will be full gender equality at the Dakar 2022 Summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG), after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved the Games' full programme.

For the first time in Olympic history, there will not just be an equal number of male and female athletes at the Games – something that was first achieved at Buenos Aires 2018 – but there will be equal representation in each sport and event as well.

The inaugural Games on the African continent will see all 28 regular Olympic sports on the programme, as well as the addition of the four sports proposed by Paris 2024 and karate.

Innovation the key for Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games

"Innovation and an ongoing focus on youth sport have been paramount for the athlete competition programme from the outset of the Youth Olympic Games," said the IOC in a statement.

Building on a potential pathway for Youth Olympians, the four sports proposed for inclusion at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games – breaking, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing – will all be on the programme in the Senegalese capital Dakar. The sport climbing events will be held in bouldering, instead of the combined event contested in both Buenos Aires and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Karate, which will take place at Tokyo 2020 but not Paris 2024, remains on the Dakar YOG programme, while 3x3 basketball, futsal, and hockey 5s continue to be the selected YOG disciplines for basketball, football, and field hockey.

Of the 239 events in Dakar, there will be 11 mixed team events, 114 men's events, and 114 women's events. The only gender-restricted competitions will be the women's rhythmic gymnastics individual and group events; these will be balanced by the two additional men's apparatus in artistic gymnastics.

There will still be 108 athletes in each gender category across the two gymnastics disciplines, the first time the sport has reached gender parity at a Games. Boxing and wrestling will also achieve this milestone in 2022.

"The agreed athlete competition is youthful and completely gender-balanced and shows that the IOC continues to develop the Youth Olympic Games that will feature over 4500 athletes from all NOCs."

– Thomas Bach, IOC President

Additionally, wrestling will welcome the new discipline of beach wrestling to sit alongside freestyle. Canoe/kayak events will be held as beach events in the Atlantic Ocean, while for the first time the modern pentathlon swim will be held as an open water race.

Reducing the cost and complexity of the Games

Despite the introduction of new disciplines, the number of events is exactly the same as it was in Buenos Aires.

The increase in athlete quotas in the name of gender equality means Dakar 2022 will welcome more than 4,500 athletes. But events will be held in two waves, meaning the capacity of the Youth Olympic Village will actually be reduced, from the 4,000 in Argentina to 2,650 in Senegal and, according to the IOC, will allow more athletes to compete without extra strain on the local infrastructure.

This is "[i]n line with the New Norm approach to reduce the cost and complexity of the Games," the IOC added.

"To ensure alignment with the elite level youth pathway, all sports are considered with the natural progression of the athlete in mind," it continued. 

"Each International Federation has proposed formats for Dakar 2022 that represent a natural progression in the careers of the young athletes and onto the Olympic stage."


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