The IOC Executive Board has approved a request from the Dakar 2022 Organising Committee to add baseball5 and wushu to the sports programme. The request was examined by the Olympic Programme Commission, which deemed both sports an excellent opportunity to further increase the offering of youth-focused sports for the benefit of the Senegalese youth. Engagement of Senegal’s young population in sport remains a key pillar of Dakar 2022’s vision for the YOG.
Furthermore, the addition has the potential to further develop these two exciting sports in Africa, supported by comprehensive and well-resourced development programmes put in place with the two respective International Federations.
The inclusion of baseball5, along with the already-approved breaking, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing, means that all sports from the Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 Organising Committees’ proposals are now included in the Dakar 2022 programme.
The Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for Dakar 2022, Kirsty Coventry, said: “Preparations for the first Olympic event on the African continent are progressing rapidly and well on track. The first Coordination Commission meeting was successfully held in Dakar at the end of October last year, and we have reached important milestones with the two decisions today. With the dates and the sports programme confirmed, teams and athletes now have crucial information to refine their planning and aspire to take part in a historical event.”
Baseball5 has been approved for the programme as the youthful and new urban version of baseball/softball. It was created by the WBSC for the soul purpose of making baseball/softball less expensive, and more available for a wider audience. The inclusion makes it the first Olympic team sport to be mixed gender, with four women and four men competing together for the medals. It is a sport that has been developed to be practised anywhere, and the World Baseball Softball Confederation has included a dedicated focus on Africa, with development and legacy plans in place.
This will be the first time that wushu has been included in the YOG sports programme, although it appeared at Nanjing 2014 as part of the Sports Lab activation. There will be two men’s and two women’s events on the programme. It is a popular youth-focused combat sport, with 120 million practitioners worldwide, and featured on the African Youth Games programme in 2018. The International Wushu Federation has 39 national federations in the African continent, with approximately 3 million athletes practising the sport according to the International Federation.
As per the full programme, the events and athlete quotas for the new sports are gender balanced, and capitalise on the two-wave-of-athletes approach to increase efficiency in the Athletes’ Village.
Although detailed venue planning discussions are due to take place with the relevant stakeholders, the events will take place in existing venues in order to optimise infrastructures and facilities. The Centre International de Conférences Abdou Diouf has been provisionally identified as the ideal location for both sports. The facility is 10 minutes from the Youth Olympic Village, and adjacent to the Dakar Expo centre.
All eyes will be on both sports as they make their Youth Olympic debuts in Dakar.