The minister of sports, Sunday Dare, was on hand to declare open festivities commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA).
The event was held at the ANOCA headquarters in Abuja.
ANOCA was founded on June 28, 1981, to unite the 54 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in Africa and serve as the successor to the Standing Committee of African Sports (or Comité Permanent du Sport Africain) founded in 1965 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The organisation is currently headquartered in Abuja, with an inauguration held in 2019 before offices officially opened in 2020.
The Nigerian minister also played host to the youth and sports ministers from Algeria, Ghana, and Egypt, expressing his belief that it is time for Africa’s sports development to progress to the next level.
Dare said, “This celebration gladdens my heart, as I see a true reflection of generosity, understanding, international cooperation, sports and cultural exchange amongst 54 countries with a unified vision.”
The Minister praised his colleagues for being change agents and pledging to work together to strengthen the fundamentals of African sports growth and development at he expressed the commitment of the Nigerian government to the principles of the association.
“Since the year 2019 when the headquarters of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) was moved from Cameroon to Nigeria, the government of Nigeria has intensified efforts in supporting the operational strategies of the Association, towards promoting the fundamental principles and values of Olympism across the African continent.
“As the Olympic headquarters of Africa, Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has ensured consistent funding of programmes and activities organised by ANOCA to assist in actualising the aims and objectives of the organisation,” he added.
Dare also voiced confidence about the future of African sports and pushed ANOCA’s executive board to be thoughtful in their efforts to grow African sports.
“On our part as Ministers of Youth And Sports, we will marshal the political will necessary, chart a course of initiatives and sports policy development that can deliver a brighter future for sports development,” Dare said.
Twelve African medalists from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be honoured during the event. All but one, including Tunisian swimmer Ahmed Ayoub Hafnaoui and Kenyan marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge, won gold at the Games.
Following their victories in Tokyo, fellow Kenyan athletes Emmanuel Korir, Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon, and Peres Jepchirchir will be honoured. Ugandans Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei and Peruth Chemutai, as well as South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker, Egyptian karate gold medalist Feryal Abdelaziz, Ethiopian Selemon Barega, and Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali, will be honoured for their efforts.
Blessing Oborududu, the Nigerian freestyle wrestler who won a silver medal at Tokyo 2020, will also be honoured.