In an effort to reflect the diversity of young athletes today, the International Olympic Committee recently added five new sports to the original program of 28 for the 2022 Youth Olympic Games in the West African city of Dakar. Plans also call for reducing infrastructure costs and achieving gender equality.
“Innovation and an ongoing focus on youth sport have been paramount for the athlete competition program from the outset of the Youth Olympic Games,” according to a statement from the IOC. “To follow the natural pathway of the Youth Olympian, Dakar 2022 will see inclusion of all the youth-focused sports proposed by Paris 2024: breaking [break dancing], surfing, sport climbing and skateboarding. Highly popular youth-focused sports seen at previous YOG, such as futsal, basketball 3x3 and hockey 5s, will continue for 2022, while new events will also make their debut, such as beach wrestling, and the sport of karate will continue its YOG journey.”
The Youth Olympic Games are expected to include more than 4,500 athletes from all National Olympic Committee countries. According to the IOC:
Significant work has been undertaken by the IOC in parallel with the International Federations to reach a new milestone in gender equality across all sports, while helping to reduce costs and demands on the Dakar 2022 organizers. In particular, the sports of boxing, gymnastics and wresting will also reach gender parity for the first time.
… [T]he sports and event program for Dakar 2022 will maintain the overall number of events (239) from Buenos Aires 2018, while reducing the Youth Olympic Village capacity from 4,000 athletes to 2,650 via the introduction of the two waves of athletes system. This will allow for an increase in athlete participation to over 4,500 without any additional impact on infrastructure.
Existing venues have been identified for each sport to ensure that the Youth Olympic Games are adapted to the local environment by maximizing existing, temporary or shared venues, such as a temporary venue for hockey, a coastal program for canoe and rowing, and the first beach start and open-water swim for modern pentathlon at the YOG.
The first Youth Olympic Games were hosted by Singapore in 2010, followed by China in 2014 and Argentina in 2018.
The Youth Winter Olympic Games began in 2012 in Austria, followed by Norway in 2016 and Switzerland in 2020. South Korea appears to be the safe bet to host the 2024 Games.