It is now official! The 2022 Youth Olympic Games will be held in Africa. Four National Olympic Committees of Botswana, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia have expressed interest with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the rights to host of 2022.
It is gratifying that the IOC has seen the need to enhance diversity in the Olympic Movement by enabling Africa to host a major Olympic event.
This will be a test case for Africa to establish whether the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games can be held on the continent.
The other piece of good news is that the 2022 Africa Youth Games will be coming back to Southern Africa and hosted in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. The 2nd Africa Youth Games were held in Botswana in 2014.
Lesotho is going to have a good dress rehearsal for 2022, as the country will also host the 2020 African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games.
The fact that many major events are coming to Southern Africa is indeed a wonderful development. This will increase the event management capacity and experience in the region.
When it comes to major events, the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa was indeed a historical achievement and a source of pride, not just for the host country, South Africa but for the continent as a whole.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup announced Africa‘s arrival on the world stage in terms of the major leagues of sport business.
Having proven beyond reasonable doubt that, given an opportunity, Africa can host fabulous events, the onus is now upon other African states to put their best feet forward and bid to host other single sport or major multi-sport events.
Just like in global economics, trade and business, Africa has to compete even if it has to play “catch up” on many fronts and aspects of life. The rest of the world is not going to slow down to allow Africa to catch up.
Sport administrators can help in promoting and entrenching this competitive spirit in Africa. The days of begging and waiting for aid and hand-outs is over. Yes, countries and regions of the world have become more and more interconnected and interdependent.
It is no sin to ask for assistance when it is needed, but one must always seek to control their own destiny as well as work towards achieving greater autonomy and independence.
Africa and especially the beautiful Southern African sub-region with its relative peace, stability and economic prosperity should not be spectators while other countries and regions are jostling to host major games and events.
Africa’s competitors are not stupid in fighting to host various single and multi-sport major events.
Major single and multi-sport events are catalysts for the development of economies, creation of infrastructure and jobs in the host countries.
In addition, these events are a means of international branding and promotion of foreign direct investment (FDI) and on-going tourism traffic to the host countries.
Sport is no longer fun and games. African sports administrators should not get excited about traveling to other parts of the world without working to bring the world to Africa. It is sheer madness!
The era of business, as usual, is over. Sports leaders should not let premier events go by without taking deliberate steps to host some of them within the region.
Southern African countries such as Angola, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, individually, can, for example, comfortably host world championships or other prestigious events if they plan ahead and work diligently towards accomplishing relevant assignments.
Things are changing and it is pleasing to note that the hard work and achievements of veteran sport leaders like Danny Jordaan (South Africa) and Ashford Mamelodi (Botswana) as well as the young guns represented by Tuelo Serufho (Botswana) and Morake Raleaka (Lesotho) have helped to inspire the development of a new brand of dynamic and innovative sports leaders.
There is no doubt that such leaders can take the region to the next level in terms of the hosting of major events.
The region desperately needs this calibre of sports leaders, who are motivated more by a burning desire to contribute to sport rather than benefit from their positions in sports administration.
There is no doubt that Botswana stands an excellent chance and winning the bid to host the 2022 Youth Olympic Games will be an exciting and unique celebration of this multi-sport event.
The decision as to who will host the 2022 Youth Olympic Games will be made at the IOC Session in October 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The Southern Times Africa Sport Forum will not apologise for rooting for Botswana against the other bidding nations of Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia. Charity begins at home.
Our home is Southern Africa although we are a proud region of the beautiful continent.
Great things are definitely coming to Southern Africa. Good luck to Botswana. The work starts now!