While local authorities are cagey with details about the progress of Botswana’s bid for the 4th Youth Olympic Games, time is ticking away with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) expected to trim the candidates from four to two by mid-September.
Africa will host its first Youth Olympics in 2022 and Botswana is in the running early on, but faces competition from Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia. IOC is moving towards the final stages of assessing and evaluating information collected from the bid cities, such that in mid-September, the IOC may have trimmed to no more than two.
The bidding cities are Abuja (Nigeria), Dakar (Senegal), Gaborone (Botswana) and Tunis (Tunisia). The over 100 IOC members would, during their session in Buenos Aires on October 8th and 9th, elect the winner in a historic decision.
Pundits are of the view that Gaborone stands a good chance, given amongst other things that the City already has most of the required infrastructure, in very close proximity. Botswana has the most recent experience of hosting an international multi-sport event, having hosted the African Youth Games in 2014 and also that the country has good credentials on indices such as those of peace and political stability.
Pundits are further of the view that for Botswana, the YOG is exactly what the doctor has ordered. The bidding resonates well with both Vision 2036 and President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s roadmap, both of which talk to amongst other things; increasing tourist numbers, profiling Botswana internationally, positioning
“The capital linked to the Games would create employment, the young people that would work at the Games as journalists, event organisers, those in the hospitality and tourism industries would get training that would position them well for the international market,” Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) chief executive officer, Tuelo Serufho said.
He said the Games would be broadcast to multitudes of people across the globe and thus profiling Botswana in the process.
“As a result, the YOG is a one single opportunity through which Botswana can achieve many ends,” he said.
The hope is that the team at Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development and BNOC, including their partners, has done all the necessary preparations to ensure that the country seizes this once in a lifetime opportunity.
It is unlikely that after 2022, the Olympic Games would return to the continent anytime soon, especially given that Africa has never hosted an Olympic Games since they started over one hundred years ago. But the bid still hinges on the government making a commitment, after a recent request for more time to consider.