Fresh from hosting the 2nd Africa Youth Games, Botswana is now casting her eyes towards hosting the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games. With a decision as to who will host the games due to be taken sometime in September this year, the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) is said to be busy compiling a bid book for the games. Speaking in an interview, BNOC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Tuelo Serufho, confirmed the news, though saying that the bid is ‘just a wish at the moment.’ “Yes, I can confirm that we are interested in hosting the games. However, this is all dependent on an approval from the Cabinet on whether we should go ahead and make a bid,” the BNOC CEO explained.
Serufho said at the moment, the proposal has been put before the cabinet and a decision will be expected sometime in July. “The deadline for us to formally make our bid to host the games is the end of July this year. Should the cabinet approve, we will then be expected to submit our bid and a bid book,” he explained. In the meantime, Serufho said the BNOC is going ahead and compiling a bid book in the hope that if the cabinet approves it, they will be ready for the end of July submission deadline. On whether Botswana can afford to host another high profile competition after struggling to find enough sponsors for the 2nd Africa Youth Games, the BNOC CEO said they are optimistic that the country can host ‘great games.’ “Unlike with the Africa Youth Games where we only had 14 months to prepare and host the games, if we are granted the host status for the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games, we will have six years to prepare. This will be enough time for us to prepare the games without being under immense pressure we had with the Africa Youth Games,” Serufho said.
With the BNOC’s struggles to find sponsors for the Africa Youth Games well documented, the BNOC CEO is optimistic that should Botswana bid and be granted the host status, they will find sponsors. “For the Africa Youth Games, we had less than a year to find sponsors and this was very difficult. All we could manage was a couple of local companies while other companies, especially big foreign companies, though interested, could not come on board as they had already done their budgets and could not help us. Some of the big foreign companies informed us that their budgets are done two years in advance and there was thus no way they could come on board though they were interested,” he explained. “However, if the Cabinet approves and we make a successful bid, we are hopeful that we will be able to bring on board some international as well as local companies on board as the games’ sponsors,” Serufho said.
Concerning infrastructure, Serufho said he expects the same venues that were used for the 2nd Africa Youth Games as well as new infrastructures like the University of Botswana (UB) Indoor Facilities to be used for the games. With about 71 countries eligible to compete in the Commonwealth Youth Games, the BNOC CEO said this will represent the biggest competition ever hosted in the country. The games attract youth athletes from across all commonwealth countries, coming from continents such as Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe as well as Canada in North America. Given the broad number of countries, the BNOC CEO said the games will be a perfect platform to sell Botswana and build capacity to host even much bigger games. “Should we get the games, our plan is to use them to sell Botswana in all competing countries. We believe that sport must be a serious contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and by hosting these big games, we hope to contribute to the economy of the country,” Serufho concluded.