Despite a few glitches, many experts who attended the Gaborone 2014, 2nd Africa Youth Games, among them President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, hailed the games as a resounding success. In what was perhaps the most flowery endorsement to Botswana and the Botswana Africa Youth Games Organizing Committee (BAYGOC), the IOC President, who had made a detour to Botswana on his journey into Africa, declared Gaborone 2014 a success and commended Botswana for its hospitality.
In a wide ranging media briefing covering issues concerning the Olympic Games, Bach said the Gaborone 2014 games gave him confidence to predict a bright future for sport in Africa.
“The success of these games can be judged by looking at the eyes of the young athletes. When I looked at them I saw sheer happiness. I looked at them and saw a bright future for them,” said the IOC President.
He said he was also impressed by the large number of athletes who competed at the games, saying it shows progress made in growing sport in Africa. Bach’s words were echoed by President of the Association of National Olympics Committees of Africa (ANOCA), Intendant General Lassana Palenfo. He commended Botswana for delivering the games successfully despite the limited time the country was given to prepare.
“When Morocco organized the games in 2010, they had only four months to prepare to host 48 countries and 1000 athletes. They delivered. Botswana also had a very short time to organize and host at least 54 countries with more than 2000 athletes and officials, they have delivered successfully,” Palenfo said.
The same sentiments were also expressed by Hill Carrow, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of American based Sports and Properties Inc (SPI), a company that was seconded to the games by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to help Botswana organize the games. Speaking in an interview on the sidelines of the games, Carrow, whose company served as BAYGOC’s consultant on behalf of USOC, said Botswana did a sterling job, given the short time frame the country was given to host the games.
“It was a very difficult period and it took a lot of work to deliver these games. As consultants based in America, we held a lot of video conferences with the organizers who had to work beyond working hours. We appreciate the hard work they put forth to make the games a success,” he said.
For her part, BAYGOC Chairperson, Regina Sikalesele-Vaka, expressed happiness at the glowing reviews BAYGOC had received from various countries for the successful games delivered.
“If I say we have successfully delivered, it will look like we are blowing our own trumpet. You must listen to all the glowing appraisals other African countries have given us and appreciate how successful the games were,” Sikalesele-Vaka said.
The BAYGOC Chairperson expressed gratitude for the efforts of the Government of Botswana, IOC, ANOCA and all the sponsors, saying the games would not have been such a success without their support.