The African nations of Botswana, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia remain in the running to host the 2022 Youth Olympic Games (YOG), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed Wednesday during an Executive Board meeting in Lausanne.
It is expected that the respective nations will forward capital cities Gaborone, Abuja, Dakar and Tunis as proposed hosts. Tunisia’s candidacy has now been reinstated after the IOC had suspended the evaluation of the bid in May due to its discrimination against Israeli athletes.
The IOC approved the candidatures following a productive dialogue phase where “three-day visits were made by IOC experts to each country to gather information on the motivations for hosting the YOG and on the potential master plan, and to make key site visits to existing fields of play,” a statement read.
“The visits involved preparing feasibility reports on existing indoor multi-purpose arenas, potential sites for outdoor festivals, temporary facilities and accommodation solutions.”
The IOC decided in February to open the 2022 YOG to African nations only, ensuring the continent would have the opportunity to host its first Olympic event, and have IOC experts integrally involved in the process.
The Youth Olympics, first launched in Singapore in 2010, is being retooled for 2022 and the IOC has planned to take a significant role in the early stages of the organization of the Games alongside the elected host city. Officials will leverage recent bidding reforms to simplify the site selection process and ensure cost efficiency for the interested candidates.
The IOC hopes a YOG in Africa will be the catalyst for further development of sport on the continent, providing a road map for future major events – and possibly an Olympic Games.
On Wednesday, the IOC announced that Tunisia was back in the race and the Tunisian NOC was informed of the decision by letter on July 12.
In a statement sent to , an IOC spokesperson wrote “The IOC has now received the guarantees required from the Tunisian State (by formal letter dated 26 June) to strictly respect the principles and rules of the Olympic Movement and the international sports organisations concerned, and to ensure that all athletes and sporting delegations can now come and participate in any international sporting events held in Tunisia, under the same conditions and without any discrimination.”
In May, IOC President Thomas Bach said the YOG dialogue with Tunisia had been suspended after “the courts [in Tunisia] would not allow Israeli athletes to participate in a Taekwondo competition.”
“As a result,” Bach added, “the IOC which had an interest from Tunisia and the Tunisian NOC to be a candidate for the Youth Olympic Games 2022 which will take place in Africa … as a result of this court decision the IOC is freezing all the contacts with Tunisia concerning this candidature for the Youth Olympic Games.”
In a later statement, the IOC had said it “will delay further evaluation of the [Tunis] proposal until the NOC can provide sufficient guarantees from government authorities to ensure that all athletes in all sports competitions will be accepted, according to the principles of non-discrimination in the Olympic Charter.”
The IOC Evaluation Committee, led by Turkish IOC member Uğur Erdener, will now launch a candidature process with the four nations where further project assessments will be made until the end of August.
In September no more than two candidates will be recommended to the IOC Executive Board by the Evaluation Commission when the final report is submitted. The Executive Board will further vet the candidates and make recommendations to the IOC membership who will elect the host city at a meeting in Buenos Aires in October. The next Summer YOG will take place in Buenos Aires this year, with the Winter edition to be staged in Lausanne in 2020.