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Youth Olympics

Youth engagement and mobilisation at the core as Dakar 2026 plans continue to progress

The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Coordination Commission for the 4th Summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Dakar 2026 met virtually today. It received updates on the continued progress that has been made in preparation for the YOG, with youth engagement and mobilisation among the key focus areas.​

Following the success of last year’s inaugural Dakar en Jeux festival, which saw thousands of people participating in sports initiations and demonstrations, music concerts and cultural activities, the 2023 edition will take place from 31 October to 4 November.

Featuring an even greater focus on promoting sport, the festival will see all 46 departments and 14 regions of Senegal represented, which is a key engagement initiative of the Organising Committee (YOGOC), aiming to promote the upcoming YOG while also encouraging local youth to get involved. It is expected that up to 30,000 spectators and 2,000 athletes will take part in the five-day festival.

In addition to hearing about plans for the upcoming Dakar en Jeux festival, the Coordination Commission received updates on other key areas of the YOG preparations.

Kirsty Coventry, the Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for Dakar 2026, said: “We are very excited by the strides Dakar 2026 is making in preparing for the YOG. With initiatives like the Dakar en Jeux festival, the Olympic values and the spirit of the YOG are being embedded in the hearts of Senegal’s younger generation. And with its strong emphasis on youth engagement and mobilisation, Dakar 2026 promises to be not just a showcase of youth sporting talent, but also a celebration of the vibrant spirit and potential of young people across Senegal and the African continent. As we move closer to the YOG, our commitment remains not only to provide a world-class sporting event, but also to foster a lasting legacy that empowers and inspires young people in Senegal and throughout Africa.”

Youth engagement and mobilisation

In addition to the Dakar en Jeux festival, the YOGOC remains focused on several activities aimed at engaging and mobilising young people in the host nation and beyond.

These include the Brevet Olympique, Civique et Sportif (Olympic, Civic and Sports Certificate) – an education programme focused on the Olympic values that was launched in 2023 and aims to reach up to 900,000 children in 11,000 schools by 2026. Students aged from nine to 15 throughout Senegal will have the opportunity to attend the courses. So far, schools in the Tambacounda, Kolda and Ziguinchor regions have had the opportunity to participate in the programme, with more areas due to be reached in 2024.

Furthermore, the Kids’ Olympic Skills initiative will be launched in 2024 to help promote education and youth engagement through sport, with the nationwide project giving children aged from six to 18 the chance to try a range of different sports ahead of the YOG.

The latest edition of the IOC Young Reporters initiative has also been announced, with the Dakar 2026 edition set to provide online and in-person sports reporting training to a select group of young professionals from Africa. Run in partnership between the IOC, the Association de la Presse Sportive (AIPS) and the Organising Committees of Paris 2024 and Dakar 2026, the programme aims to create a tangible legacy for the young generation in the host country of Senegal and the wider African continent.

Badara Preira

The Commission was also updated on the renovation and construction work that is being carried out ahead of the YOG. This included detailed timelines for the refurbishments still to be initiated, with work set to begin in the first quarter of 2024, with a delay. The Coordination Commission members were, however, reassured that the work will be ready on time.

In addition, the Commission was informed about the work to finalise the updated Edition Plan in the coming months, which will serve as a baseline for the activities of the Organising Committee for the years to come by defining all the key elements necessary for the delivery of the event.

Following the last meeting of the Coordination Commission, the IOC has been working in close collaboration with the International Federations and the YOGOC in order to find optimisations in the overall event programme. Work is focused on key aspects of the competition – athlete quotas, number of events, formats and schedule – and will continue over the coming months.

The YOG Dakar 2026 will take place from 31 October to 13 November 2026, bringing together the world’s best young athletes to compete. The Games will be held across three host sites (Dakar, Diamniadio and Saly) and aim to serve as a catalyst to transform Senegalese young people through sport, while becoming a blueprint for Senegal and future YOG hosts.

Credit: International Olympic Committee

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