Senegal shines at the Dakar En Jeux festival ahead of the Dakar 2026 Youth Olympic Games

Whether Dakar In Games Festival nothing to say, the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Dakar 2026 will be simply incredible.

The eight-day festival (October 29 to November 5) celebrated youth with a combination of music, art, culture and sport. Several thousand young people took part in 25 different sporting events in Saly, Diamniadio and Dakar, the three cities that will host sporting events during the YOG Dakar 2026.

Ibrahima WadeGeneral Coordinator of the Organizing Committee of the Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026, said he was delighted with the progress of the event.

“I have to admit we exceeded our targets,” Wade said. “We wanted to organize a festival that would mobilize youth, sport and culture, and we went well beyond that, having shown our ability to organize, welcome and bring people together.

“What I remember from this festival is the ability of our young people to take up the challenge that awaits them. Being up to the challenge of welcoming the youth of the world is a real reason for satisfaction and pride .”

The event gave a small glimpse of what is to come in what will be a historic event with Africa hosting an Olympic competition for the first time ever.

Rio 2016 taekwondo Olympian Balla Dieye was one of several Senegalese Olympians involved in the festival. He thinks Africa is really going to wow the world with all it has to offer.

“We are four years away from the Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026,” Dieye told Olympics.com. “If we continue in this dynamic, I think that the entire Senegalese population will get involved in this project. Senegal is a country of sport, a very young and welcoming country. And we believe that by the YOG Dakar 2026, we are going to do something magnificent.”

Dakar 2026: Opportunities for Africa

Hosting the fourth edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games is seen as a huge opportunity for the continent.

It is recognized as a milestone in the history of the Olympic Movement.

“This is the first time that our country has hosted such a competition. It is important for a country like Senegal with a young population. It is a pleasure to host all Olympic sports,” said Mouhamed Diopdouble Olympian in swimming.

This excitement has already spread to other African countries.

“Events in Africa will put it (the continent) on the map. And not just Africa, but also the country of Senegal. Senegal is an amazing country with amazing people. It’s important for the world to know that things happen here and see what happens here” said Marine Fatoumata Camaraa Malian boxer and Paris 2024 optimistic.

True to Senegal’s nickname, Pays de la Teranga, which in the country’s native language, Wolof, means hospitality, the country and its people have their arms open and look forward to welcoming the world to Dakar.

Dakar En Jeux 2022 is just beginning

This year’s edition of Dakar en Jeux was the inaugural event. It will become an annual festival until the Dakar 2026 YOG.

A plan is already in place for next year, around the same time. And after the success of the 1st edition, Dakar en Jeux should develop with more competitions, activities and more young people involved from other African countries.

Many hope the continued events will lead to more growth and education about the power of sport.

Syra Sylla, Senegalese basketball journalist, women’s sports advocate and entrepreneur, says, “I hope people realize that sports can be more than just a tool to watch, it’s also something that can truly change lives.”

The people of Dakar got a little taste of the impact sport can have on communities throughout the festival and the Youth Olympic Games will only continue to help promote the power of sport.

Naomi C. Amerson