Has the time Come for Africa to Host the Olympics?

4 Min Read

Africans have participated in the Olympics in some form or the other since 1904.South Africa sent a team to the London games. Since  then as number as have grown as African countries gained their independence. This summer, we are likely to see the debut of a team from Southern Sudan.

In the past century of competition in the Summer games, Africa has seen track and field success from Kenya, Ethiopia, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa Uganda, Tanzania among others. At the 2012 games Africa totalled 34 medals, from 10 participating countries.

Kenya’s Sammy Wanjiru (C), Morocco’s Jaouad Gharib (L) and Ethiopia’s Tsegay Kebede swept the 2008  Olympic Marathon Medals (Source: China People Daily

There have also been medalists in swimming, boxing, soccer, Canoe sprint, fencing and shooting. In team sports such as field hockey, volleyball, and basketball African nations have perennially had representatives. Also with the introduction of sevens rugby Africa will have two strong representatives in South Africa and Kenya.

That aside there is one area where Africa has yet to break its duck. That is in hosting the Olympic games themselves. South Africa has been said to be lining up a bid to bring the games to Durban in 2024, whereas  Kenya’s Vision 2030, envisions making a bid for the 2028 summer games.The contrast between the two potential bidding cities could not be more stark

At present only South Africa can really be said to have existing infrastructure to host an Olympic games event, other potential hosts would have to build most of the infrastructure from scratch. Something that is not unusual even in bids where the host cities could have used the existing facilities

With a track record of host multiple Africa Cup of Nations, British and Irish Lions Rugby tours, the Rugby, Cricket and Soccer World Cups,  South Africa would not lack for means to make an Olympics a success.

Kenya’s record is a lot more sparse. Aside from the 1987 All Africa Games, and The World Cross Country Championships, and Africa Athletics Championships, the most notable thing about Kenya’s history in hosting sporting events is the scandal of the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations.

Having been identified as a host, the government contrived to get scammed out of most of the money intended for the games. What was meant to be a coming out party for a regional power wound up being a massive white elephant.

Even assuming that a fiasco like that is a thing of the past, there have been  arguments that successfully hosting an event like the Olympic games is more trouble than it is worth.

A significant amount of the protest that has shaken Brazil’s government to its knees is tied to the view that The 2016 Rio Games are a waste of valuable resources needed to deliver social infrastructure jobs and services.

Similar concerns have come up with with the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa the London games from 2012. Is an undertaking like the Olympics really a priority right now? Given ongoing challenges in providing, water electricity, health care and education, maybe

Share This Article