2024 Olympic Games: A strategic choice for the future of African sport

[PHOTO: COURTESY]

As sport representatives from 54 African countries gather this week in Djibouti for the General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, it is a decisive time for African sport bodies to develop a winning strategy.

A strategy that allows them to capitalise on the continent’s historic 45 medals at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, and see their athletes shine again in three years’ time in Tokyo.

The resolutions made at the ANOCA General Assembly this week will not only shape the future of African sport, but will have a significant impact on the Olympic Movement around the world.

Another key decision determining the fate of international sport for the years ahead will be made on

September 13, some 13,000 kilometers away from Djibouti, as International Olympic Committee members meet in Lima to select the host of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Why does this key decision matter to Africa?

First, the September vote will put forward a partner with which African sport bodies will work closely during the next seven years while building their own positive future.

The United States Olympic Committee recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its ground breaking partnership with the ANOCA family, which is aimed at developing sport throughout the African continent. The USOC’s activities demonstrate the US sports community’s commitment to supporting the development of African sport – be it through the International Coaching Enrichment Certificate

Program from which 49 coaches from 25 African countries have graduated, athlete scholarships and training opportunities, equipment and apparel donations, support for staging major sport events such as the 2014 African Youth Games, or establishing a cloud communications system that allows all 54 African

National Olympic Committees to collaborate in an enhanced way.

This commitment has been an inspiration to the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Bid Committee as we seek to put forward a Games plan with a lasting global impact, and it has also provided us with invaluable insights into the needs and priorities of African National Olympic Committees.

We have already achieved a great deal together and we have real potential to achieve much more in the decade to come.

Secondly, the results of the vote could help ensure that African athletes have access to the best training facilities and services, which is always a top priority for every NOC and National Paralympic Committee.

The United States has one of the best networks of world-class venues and high-performance training facilities in the world.

Many sport legends from across Africa have already benefited from the US college system, utilising some of the best facilities to pursue their Olympic dreams while simultaneously receiving an education. At Rio 2016 alone, more than 1,000 athletes from 107 nations – including many from Africa – were either current or former student-athletes in the US.

Providing National Olympic Committees and National Paralympic Committees with access to coordinated pre-Games training opportunities, acclimatisation camps and services such as sport medicine ahead of Tokyo 2020, and leading into the 2024 Games is an integral part of LA 2024’s commitment.

As part of this commitment, facilities such as the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center will be available to African athletes before and beyond the Games. African athletes will be better prepared for the Games, allowing them to further improve African countries’ medal chances.

All permanent venues required for 2024 are already in place in Los Angeles and the Games will be 100 percent privately funded. That means we will be fully dedicated to providing an unprecedented experience for National Olympic Committees and National Paralympic Committees – and to special projects such as the LA 2024 Athlete Transition Program aimed at providing athletes with education and professional opportunities – rather than to construction and managing financial surprises.

Finally, at this critical time for the Olympic Movement, the 2024 vote will determine the future of the

Games and their place in the world 10 or 20 years from now, when Africa’s ambition to host the continent’s first-ever Olympic and Paralympic Games becomes a reality.

For that to happen, we believe that we must collectively demonstrate that it is possible to host spectacular Games in a financially responsible and truly sustainable way. Los Angeles provides a unique opportunity for the Olympic and Paralympic movements to secure a sustainable future by engaging with a $250 billion sports market and accessing an intersection of new media, technology and entertainment found only in California.

Los Angeles is America’s most diverse city, where almost 40 percent of the population was born outside the United States. It is our dream to be able to provide our colleagues at ANOCA in 2024 a home-field advantage away from home with the warmest welcome from our 144 international communities.

Above all, we would be proud to contribute, through LA 2024 programs, to the bright future of African sport – not in a few years, but hopefully, in just in a few months.

Authors: Casey WASSERMAN, Chairman, Los Angeles 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Bid Committee, and Larry PROBST, Chairman, Unites States Olympic Committee.

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