After a 13-year-old journey to completion, the brand new Association of National Olympic Committee of Africa (ANOCA) headquarters located in Abuja, Nigeria, has been commissioned on November 14 by the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach.
Bach - on his first visit to Nigeria - was in company of ANOCA President Mustapha Berraf, some of Africa’s NOC presidents, as well as IOC members. He said he was “honoured to share in the continent’s historic moment”.
In June 2006, Nigeria alongside six others bidded to host the ANOCA headquarters during the Association’s General Assembly in Kenya, with the West African nation eventually selected as the continent’s Olympic capital.
With the signing of the headquarters cooperation agreement on February 21, 2007, the ANOCA secretariat hitherto in Yaounde, Cameroon was effectively moved to Abuja. Fast forward to the present, the secretariat, though not fully furnished, will serve the purpose of the continent’s Olympic movement.
“It is a day that the entire black race should be proud of and as Nigerians, we are proud to be a major contributor to the actualization of this day,” Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, said.
“Abuja will be christened the capital of sports, or Olympic sports and will from today be the technical and administrative hub for sports on the continent.”
Bach added that the inauguration of the edifice was an opportunity for Africa to look with confidence into the future.
“With the inauguration of this project, you are setting a milestone for the development of sports in the continent and I am honoured to share this historic moment with the entire Olympic family in Africa,” Bach said.
“The building and inauguration of a new house give the opportunity to look into the future. Africa has many reasons to look into the future of sports with great confidence and optimism especially with the 2022 Youth Olympic Games in Senegal.
“The Youth Olympics will be the Youth Olympic Games of Africa, from Africa to the world.”
For his part, the ANOCA president Berraf said the secretariat “will reflect our mission, our Olympic values and will be home to all 54 countries of our Olympic continental sports association.”
On the sidelines, Bach, in an interactive session with Nigerian Olympians urged the Nigerian government to strengthen grassroots sports development and infrastructure in order to produce more Olympic champions.
The IOC president also said his two-day visit was part of efforts to support the country’s Olympic preparations and further boost the ideals of the Olympics. He also commented on the possibility of E-sports’ inclusion in the Olympics.
“The IOC is a value-based organization and we cannot recognize any game under the Olympic programme which is against the Olympic values.
“Games that glorify or promote violence or are about any kind of discrimination are not acceptable for the Olympic movement.
“But, what we are looking for are games which are simulating real sports. For instance is the E-version of cycling, which is like training and it is the same as the main cycling event, though E-cycling is indoor and you are not moving.
“The physical effort in both versions of cycling is the same. Same also applies to a number of sports like the E-tennis as well. This is what we are looking into and promoting. This is where we hope we can have good cooperation in the near future,” Bach concluded.