IOC President Thomas Bach meets with Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal

During a visit to Senegal on Saturday, IOC President Thomas Bach updated the head of state on the great progress of the preparations for the Youth Olympic Games that will take place in Dakar in 2026, becoming the first ever Olympic event in Africa.

IOC / Greg Martin IOC / Greg Martin

“It has been a great pleasure to finally meet again after the COVID-19 pandemic,” said President Bach after the meeting. “I would like to thank President Sall for all the support he has been giving to the youth of Senegal, to sport, and to the Olympic Movement. Thanks to this support, we are very confident in the success of the Youth Olympic Games here in Senegal in four years.”

The IOC President shared his anticipation of the event: “We cannot wait for the moment to be back here and to enjoy this first Olympic event on African soil, an event for Africa, with Africa, that will welcome the youth of the world in Senegal.”

The West African country will become the continent’s first ever Olympic host when it welcomes the Youth Olympic Games 2026 in Dakar. “We can expect a festival of excellence in sport, of African culture, the joy of living and the wonderful hospitality of the African people,” concluded President Bach. President Macky Sall thanked Thomas Bach and the IOC for their friendship and expressed his gratitude “for the great cooperation with the Dakar 2026 Organising Committee”. The two leaders also discussed the global geopolitical situation and other topics of mutual interest.

IOC President Thomas Bach plants a symbolic tree in Dakar to celebrate the start of the Olympic Forrest Project with 600 000 trees to be planted. IOC/Greg Martin

Earlier in the day, the IOC President visited the campus of the university of Diamniadio, host of the future Youth Olympic Village. In the presence of 100 students and young girls and boys from Senegalese sports clubs, he planted a symbolic baobab to celebrate the first phase of tree-planting activities for the Olympic Forest in Senegal and Mali.

IOC President Thomas Bach visits the Fresco in Dakar main train station and engages with the youth and various athletes IOC/Greg Martin

At Dakar train station, the IOC President was introduced to the Dakar fresco, a colourful creation by talented young artists inspired by the Olympic values, portraying Olympians. There, he also interacted with young kids training for Dakar 2026, who showed off their skills in fencing, badminton, breaking and wushu, all part of the Youth Olympic Games sports programme.

IOC President Thomas Bach visits the Fresco in Dakar main train station and engages with the youth and various athletes IOC/Greg Martin

Throughout his visit, President Bach was accompanied by Mr Mamadou Diagna Ndiaye, IOC member in Senegal and President of the Organising Committee of the Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026, and Ms Kirsty Coventry, IOC member in Zimbabwe and Chair of the Dakar 2026 Coordination Commission.

The Dakar Youth Olympic Games were originally scheduled to take place this year, but the global COVID-19 pandemic complicated their organisation, forcing delays to Tokyo 2020 and Dakar 2022 alike. When it finally happens, Dakar 2026 will see the world’s best young athletes come together for 14 days of competition in 35 different sports.

In its place this year, however, the Dakar en Jeux festival will run from 29 October to 5 November – the original Dakar dates – in the three host towns of Dakar, Diamniadio and Saly. A celebration of sport and culture set to take place every year until Dakar 2026 itself, the festival will promote the upcoming Games, while encouraging more young people to get involved.

Dakar 2026

The fourth edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games 2026 (YOG) will be held in Dakar, Senegal. This is the first time the Youth Olympic Games will be organised in Africa. Dakar 2022 presented a visionary, ambitious and technically sound YOG project that addresses the long-term aims of the country.

IOC President Thomas Bach said: “Africa is united behind Senegal to host the Youth Olympic Games. With a young population and a passion for sport, it is time for Africa, it is time for Senegal.”

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