Team Kenya has been hit by the biggest disruption yet of the coronavirus pandemic following the postponement of Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games to 2026.
The the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) would have been the first Olympic event to be held in Africa.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach made the announcement in a teleconference with journalists following an IOC Executive Board meeting on Wednesday.
The IOC Executive Board approved the agreement, which was proposed by Senegalese President Macky Sall in a phone call with IOC President Bach, and which will be put to the IOC Session for ratification on Friday.
“This postponement of Dakar 2022 allows the IOC, NOCs, and IFs to better plan their activities which have been strongly affected by the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the subsequent postponement of other international sports events, and by the operational and financial consequences of the global health crisis,” President Bach said.
National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) President, Paul Tergat, who is an IOC member is also a member of the coordination commission for the 2022 Youth Olympic Games
In a statement by Ag. Secretary General NOC-K Francis Mutuku, the postponement means Kenya will lose a cycle of youngsters that had started preparing for Dakar 2022; adding that this was also a catapult for continuous preparation of this crop of athletes for Paris 2024 and LA 2028.
“Through the NOC-K Youth Commission, we had identified youngster in 2019 aged between 12-16, who would have prospectively qualified for the YOG. We had started national camps for these top juniors to keep them in high performance training, to give them the best chance of qualifying. We had also started identifying areas of collaboration, to nurture young talent in the country and help as many youths as we can participate in the YOG which is a great platform to start their professional careers. Some individual sports’ youngsters had already landed scholarships.” He said.
He said the NOC-K Youth Commission will therefore need to re-strategize.
“We might need to now go lower in age groups for preparation of 2026 and maintain the momentum of the youth we had started with as we look for international exposures for them. The overall objective of our youth program is to increase Kenyan competitive participation beyond the sports that we are traditionally known for.” He added
Mutuku said Kenya participated in the second edition of the YOG in Argentina in 2018 and fielded participants in athletics and boys hockey, winning three gold medals and one silver medal.
“As much as the Games are for elite youngsters, an event distinct aspect from other youth sports competitions, is that they also include a series of educational activities with three areas of focus: protecting the athletes, working on performance, and assisting the athletes outside sport.” Said Mutuku
Non-athlete participants, namely the Young Reporters, YOG Ambassadors and Athlete Role Models, are also an integral part of the YOG experience.
The Games include exciting new sports, disciplines and formats, such as 3-x-3 basketball, 3-x-3 ice hockey and mixed gender and mixed National Olympic Committee (NOC) events.