04 May. 2020
Today marks 900 days to go until the 2022 Youth Olympic Games (YOG), which will be held in Dakar, Senegal.
Dakar 2022 is set to be the first Olympic event organised on the African continent and will take place from Saturday 22 October to Wednesday 9 November – with African Youth Day falling right in the middle, on Tuesday 1 November.
After indoor handball featured at the first (2010) and second (2014) editions of the YOG, beach handball replaced it at the last edition, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2018.
It was an instant hit, with IOC President Dr Thomas Bach telling IHF.info at the time that beach handball was “fantastic to see” at the event, a sport he described as “youthful,” with “a great, easy-going atmosphere and a good competition at the same time.”
Gender-balance and athlete progression
The Stade Iba Mar Diop will host beach handball competitions, which, as per Buenos Aires 2018, will feature 12 teams in the men’s and women’s competitions respectively, with a maximum of 108 athletes in each (equivalent to nine players per team), continuing the gender-balance in beach handball, a crucial part of the DNA of the YOG.
For the first time in Olympic history, there will not just be an equal number of male and female athletes at the YOG – something that was first achieved at Buenos Aires 2018 – but there will be equal representation in each sport and event as well.
Dakar 2022 will feature a 50/50 male/female split of 4,564 athlete places for 33 sports consisting of 38 different disciplines across 239 events in total after the official sport and event programme was approved by the IOC Executive Board in December.
A first for Africa, pride for Senegal
Senegal was selected by the IOC during the 2018 YOG after they presented a "visionary, ambitious and technically sound project that addresses the long-term aims of a country with a large youth population".
It had come after the IOC had targeted the African continent as potential hosts for the YOG 2022, with Dr Bach saying back then that, “Africa is the home of so many very successful Olympic athletes. Africa is a continent of youth. That is why we want to take the Youth Olympic Games 2022 to Africa.”
Dakar 2022’s plans also fall in line with the Senegalese Government’s ‘Senegal Emerging Plan’ which aims to place the country on the global map for international sporting events, while showcasing the best of the continent as a whole.
Last October, IHF President Dr Hassan Moustafa met with Senegal President Macky Sall, African Handball Confederation President Dr Mansourou Aremou and Senegal Handball Federation President Seydou Diouf, with beach handball at Dakar 2022 discussed amongst many other topics.
“It is going to be very motivating for the young athletes and I'm very proud of Senegal hosting the Games,” said Amadou Ndiaye, who carried the Senegalese flag at the Buenos Aires 2018 Opening Ceremony about his country being awarded the 2022 YOG. “Everyone in Senegal is very generous and very welcoming, and everything in Senegal – the scenery – is very beautiful.”
Last November, Dr Bach was in Dakar to see the progress of preparations for the event where he visited various sites, plus the new headquarters of the Senegal National Olympic Committee.
The DNA of the YOG
The YOG are aimed at bringing together talented young athletes aged 15 to 18 years old from around the world in an elite sporting event.
Like the Olympic Games, the YOG are held every four years and feature summer and winter editions. The first summer edition was held in Singapore in 2010, followed by Nanjing, China in 2014 and both featured indoor handball, before beach handball replaced it at Buenos Aires 2018.
The winter games have been held in Innsbruck, Austria (2012), Lillehammer, Norway (2016) and Lausanne, Switzerland (2020). The 2024 edition will be held in Gangwon, Republic of Korea.
In addition to the sport, athletes are also involved in a series of educational activities with three areas of focus: protecting the athletes, working on performance and assisting the athletes outside sport.
Non-athlete participants are also an integral part of the YOG experience, with Young Reporters, YOG Ambassadors and Athlete Role Models (ARM) all involved. At Buenos Aires 2018, Gil Pires and Andrea Lekic were the ARMs for beach handball.
Sports and their disciplines at Dakar 2022
Aquatics (Swimming, Diving)
Athletics (Track and Field)
Canoe (Beach Canoe Sprint, Beach Canoe Slalom)
Cycling (BMX Freestyle, Road)
Gymnastics (Artistic, Rhythmic)
Hockey (Hockey 5s)
Rugby (Rugby Sevens)
Volleyball (Beach Volleyball)
Wrestling (Freestyle, Beach Wrestling)