Bach to visit Dakar but IOC plans to cut travel in build-up to Youth Olympics

Sports

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has agreed not to hold Coordination Commission meetings in Dakar in a bid to cut down travel and go online to prepare for the 2026 Youth Olympic Games – but its President Thomas Bach is due to visit the Senegalese capital later this month.

Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games executive director for the IOC, insisted the organisation’s approach was to ensure “we don’t travel for the travel”.

His comment came after IOC officials decided not to visit Dakar for the latest Coordination Commission meeting.

Instead, the Dakar 2026 Organising Commission provided updates on preparations for the Games online.

“We are going to have a different plan [for Dakar 2026],” said Dubi.

“Since we have this fantastic tour of video conferences which worked very well, we don’t have to go to Dakar.

“For Tokyo [2020] for example, what we did is to have regular contact by video conference.

“Sometimes some people would travel on site, not as a whole Coordination Commission but individually so we will see in the weeks and months to come.

“Maybe by the end of 2023 we might have a meeting with some people on site but we should not neglect this really excellent tool of hybrid meetings so we don’t travel for the sake of travel.”

Kirsty Coventry, chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for Dakar 2026, added: “One positive thing that has come out of the COVID pandemic is that it has taught us how to be more efficient and effective online but still allowing for smaller teams to travel and always having a presence.”Zimbabwean official Coventry confirmed she would be travelling to Dakar with Bach for the Dakar en Jeux Festival, which is due to run from October 29 to November 5.

“I will be travelling to Dakar at the end of this month along with the IOC President and IOC team [including] Christophe Dubi,” said Coventry.

“We are very much looking forward to travelling to Dakar for this festival, not only to enjoy the festival but Senegal has got such a strong culture and traditions that we are looking forward to those meetings.”

Dakar was originally scheduled to stage the Youth Olympic Games this year only for it to be moved to 2026 because of the operational and economic consequences of the coronavirus-enforced postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Ibrahima Wade, general coordinator for Dakar 2026, said the Dakar en Jeux Festival would be the “starting point” for its four-year journey to the Games.

“We meet once a year and during these yearly meetings we can present progress made in Dakar and above all we receive on our side the recommendations and wise words of the Coordination Commission,” said Wade.

“I am very grateful for this excellent cooperation between Dakar and the IOC.

“We have daily contacts, not only prepare this year’s Coordination Commission meeting and we have very regular contact with the IOC, daily, weekly and monthly contact with the IOC and this is what makes the project in Dakar so very effective.

“This meeting is an opportunity for all of us to fine tune the Dakar project.”