‘Monumental Moment For African Sports’: On Dakar Debut Of The Youth Olympic Games In 2026

Published 1 month ago
Participants engaging in an activity as part of Dakar en Jeux; photo courtesy IOC, Margot Mendes
Participants engaging in an activity as part of Dakar en Jeux; (photo courtesy IOC, Margot Mendes)

Senegalese and other Africans are anticipating the first-ever Youth Olympic Games to be hosted on the continent in 2026, in Dakar, the capital of Senegal.

Rescheduled for October 31 to November 13, 2026, the proposed games is set to bring together the world’s finest young athletes to compete in 35 different sports over a span of 14 days.

In place of the 2022 event, the Dakar en Jeux (Dakar in Games) festival was held from October 29 to November 5, the originally planned Dakar 2022 period, across the three host cities of Dakar, Diamniadio, and Saly.


Since then, Dakar en Jeux has become an annual celebration of sport and culture, serving as a precursor to Dakar 2026 while encouraging increased youth engagement in sports.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has in news reports expressed his support for Senegal’s hosting of the Youth Olympic Games, noting Africa’s unity and its sporting culture. “With a young population and a passion for sport, it is time for Africa, it is time for Senegal,” he has noted.

During his visit to Senegal in 2022, disclosing his anticipation for the event, Bach said: “We cannot wait for the moment to be back here and to enjoy this first Olympic event on African soil, an event for Africa, with Africa, that will welcome the youth of the world in Senegal. We can expect a festival of excellence in sport, of African culture, the joy of living and the wonderful hospitality of the African people.”

Senegal-based sports analyst Rufai Shuaib considers the event to be of historic significance.


“This is a monumental moment for African sports. The hosting of the Youth Olympic Games in Dakar represents a major milestone in showcasing the immense talent and potential of our young athletes on a global platform,” Shuaib tells FORBES AFRICA.

Shuaib opines that “the games will contribute to the development of sports infrastructure and opportunities across the region”.

He adds that the event has the potential to promote youth empowerment and catalyze socio-economic growth. “This is a golden opportunity for Africa to shine and demonstrate its capabilities on the world stage.”

“The Games symbolize Africa’s rising prominence in the global sports arena and signify a new chapter in our continent’s sporting journey,” says Shuaib.


For Nigerian analyst Kolawole Oyebola, Dakar 2026 presents an opportunity to boost tourism and stimulate economic growth.

Oyebola tells FORBES AFRICA: “This is another opportunity for Africa to show its ability to host large-scale international events. It will enhance Senegal’s global standing and the rest of the continent.”

The economic benefits, according to Oyebola, are multifaceted, as he points out, “The influx of visitors, athletes, and officials will create an increase in demand for accommodation, dining, transportation, and various services, providing a significant boost to local businesses and industries.”

He adds, “The exposure generated by the event will attract future investments and promote long-term sustainable development across the continent.”


However, Oyebola also highlights the importance of strategic planning and infrastructure development to maximize the economic impact. He cautions, “While the Youth Olympic Games present immense opportunities, adequate infrastructure and logistical support are crucial to ensure smooth operations and capitalize on the event’s potential.”