The Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the 10th Africa Junior Championships says preparations to host one of Africa’s biggest athletics tournament are at an advanced stage.
LOC president, Solly Reikeletseng, said that everything is on course for the country to host successful games.
“In these kinds of events, accommodations, food and accreditations are always major worries. At the moment, we have secured all these and our only concern at the moment is the availability of the stadium to host the games,” the LOC president informed Standard Sport.
He says considering the magnitude of the games and the numbers of athletes expected to descend on the country, the only venue capable of hosting is the National Stadium, which is still under renovations.
“We are currently in consultations with the government to try and get the National Stadium ready in time for the event. At the moment, we do not have any alternative stadium to host the event,” the LOC chief continued. He says with at least 2000 athletes from 51 countries expected to attend the event which has already major television stations seeking broadcast rights; successfully hosting the event will open many opportunities for Botswana.
“We have already brought some of the leading international brands like Adidas and Samsung onboard and still many others are interested. This shows the potential impact this event has in our sport,” Reikeletseng told Standard Sport.
He further said that with countries’ potential to host major events judged by previous events hosted, successfully hosting the event will put the country in good standing to be considered for other major events. Reikeletseng said that so far, at least 920 athletes from 30 different African countries had registered to take part in the event, which is due in less than six months. The LOC president says hosting the prestigious event will boost the country both on and off the field. He says with the world wide coverage of the games as well as the numbers of people expected to come into the country during the championships, the country will gain both economically and sports wise.
“Event tourism is one of the leading sources of economic growth and we expect many people with buying power, including athletes, to come and spend money here during the games,” says Reikeletseng.
He says this will also benefit the country through skills transfer as many people, including athletes, will receive training ahead of the games. Sports wise, Reikeletseng says hosting an event of this magnitude will motivate the interest of Batswana in sport, which, in the long run, will help grow sport in the country.
Meanwhile, the LOC president has encouraged Batswana as well as the country’s leadership to own the championships and be part to making it a success.
“Our leaders should be proactive and should demand to see whether things are going accordingly for the event. They must be party to all that is happening,” says the LOC chief.
He also urged Batswana and residents of all skills in any field to be part of the event by volunteering, saying for the event alone, they will need at least 300 volunteers. He says they will need people with knowledge of languages spoken in Africa, whether they are Batswana or not to register either as translators, guides or any other needed services.