KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The coronavirus pandemic has forced the International Olympic Committee to postpone the 2022 Youth Games in Senegal to 2026.

The decision, taken by the executive board meeting in video conference, will be a major disappointment for African sport which rarely has the opportunity to welcome the world.

IOC president Thomas Bach denied there was any comparison between the four-year deferment of the youth event and the one-year postponement of the senior Tokyo 2020 Games.

He said: “I understand many of the boys and girls will be disappointed which is why we have tried to mitigate their disappointment by offering the services of our educational and other programmes to the international federations so they can share this experience with their junior athletes.

“We will also look for a good cooperation with the continental associations so these young athletes can make their Olympic experience at least on a continental level.”

Negative polls

In Tokyo recent polls have indicated public opinion swinging against the Games.

However Bach said: “The situation of the Youth Olympics can be in no way compared with the situation in Tokyo. The major concern for Dakar was the proliferation of five Olympic events in three years which would make it almost impossible for the international federations and national Olympic committees to prepare for participation.

“Add to this the financial constraints the Ifs and NOCs are facing already so these are two totally different issues and cannot be compared in any way. We remain fully committed to celebrate Tokyo 2020 next July and August.”

Returning to the Senegal postponement, Bach said: “I am sure that in 2026, together, we will organise fantastic Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026 for Senegal, the entire African continent and all the young athletes of the world.”

The decision will be submitted to the IOC Session for formal ratification on Friday.