1000 days until first Olympic event in Africa – Youth Olympics Dakar 2026

1,000 days to go to the first Olympic event in Africa: the Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026 are coming 

“We cannot wait for the moment to enjoy the first Olympic event on African soil, an event for Africa, with Africa, that will welcome the youth of the world in Senegal,” the IOC President, Thomas Bach, said.

Reflecting on the 1,000 days-to-go milestone, Kirsty Coventry, the Chair of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Coordination Commission for Dakar 2026, highlighted the impressive efforts that have already been made to engage and mobilise local youth in Senegal.

“Dakar 2026 represents a unique opportunity to spread the Olympic spirit throughout Africa and inspire not only young athletes, but also local youth,” she said. “Already, thanks to the collaborative efforts between the YOGOC and IOC teams, we have seen how engagement initiatives like the Dakar en Jeux Festival are reaching thousands of young people in Senegal and building the legacy that the YOG will bring to the local communities.

She continued: “We look forward to working closely with the Dakar 2026 team over the next 1,000 days to deliver transformative and inspiring YOG, showcasing the unifying power of sport and the rich cultural heritage of Africa.”

Ibrahima Wade, General Coordinator of the YOGOC, said: “1,000 days separate us from the Opening Ceremony. It’s a symbolic date for us because we are little by little getting closer to welcoming the world and celebrating with the youth of the world — the African youth, the Senegalese youth — the first African Olympic event.”

He continued: “The countdown has begun for the rendez-vous with the world”.

Planning and preparations progressing at full speed

With 1,000 days to go, progress continues to be made in planning and preparations for the YOG, with the renovation of the Iba Mar Diop stadium recently commencing, marking a significant step in infrastructure development for the Games. The refurbishment of the stadium is part of a broader initiative to ensure state-of-the-art facilities for Dakar 2026, which will rely mainly on existing and updated venues, ensuring a sustainable legacy for the YOG.

Recent efforts have also included a comprehensive review of the sports programme, focusing on disciplines, events and athlete quotas, with the Games Master Plan subsequently being adapted to optimise the use of the Youth Olympic Village and prioritise elite athlete development pathways. The process included valuable input from the International Olympic Sports Federations to finalise competition sites, with the IOC Executive Board set to confirm the final sports programme and athlete quotas shortly.

In addition, the YOGOC held a training seminar for Senegalese sports journalists in December, helping to equip local media with comprehensive knowledge of the plans for Dakar 2026. Focusing on infrastructural plans, the principle of co-construction with the IOC, spreading the Olympic values, and the Dakar en Jeux Festival, the seminar aimed to foster greater public engagement and awareness for the YOG.

The YOG Dakar 2026 will take place for two weeks from 31 October, bringing together the world’s best young athletes. The Games will be held across three host sites (Dakar, Diamniadio and Saly), and aim to serve as a catalyst to transform Senegal through sport, while becoming a blueprint for future YOG hosts.

On the occasion of the 1,000-day milestone, a promotional video was also produced.

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