All this is due, courtesy of the eternal infighting that has existed and still continues till date in African Sports administrative circles.
In retrospect let me bring to light one of many debacles that has long plagued the All African Games before touching on the current crisis that is about to derail the Games again;
To quote him; … “I will be too exhausted to compete”… and sure enough when I looked up the dates of both meets, they indeed not only clashed, they overlapped. The IAAF World Athletics Championships were slated to end on September 4th 2011 and the All African Games were set to start on September 3rd 2011. Essentially the clash of timing between a major international meet and Africa’s supposed continental grand sporting showcase, guaranteed the non participation of the continents elite athletes.
Most international athletes need at least two weeks to recuperate from a major undertaking from one competition to another and with the way the dates were juxtaposed with the two events, there was no breathing room or rest time for athletes who wanted to take part in the IAAF World Athletics Championships as well as the All African Games in Maputo, Mozambique.
My natural inclination was to reach out to the officials of the Organizing Committee in Maputo to find out how and why such a major faux pas was made and how come they had not double checked the timing on all international meets or at best reach out to all the major global sports governing bodies to synchronize their dates with them, ensuring that they will at least be able to attract the continents elite international stars to participate in the Games.
Having the continents elite athletes present is something that is essential in garnering the attention of the world and potential sponsors for the Games, as well as being able to showcase Africa’s best to its billion plus people endearing the event to all and in essence guaranteeing its growth as Africa’s Olympics and a major international sports attraction. The response I got was that, I was wrong on the dates and surely enough when they did check the dates they found that I was right but all the same indicated that it was too late and they could not do anything about it so they chose to go ahead as planned with the Games.
You could guess the disaster that such an oversight brought upon the Games in Mozambique; it flopped and was a massive failure. Many of the continents elite athletes did not bother to show up in Maputo after Daegu. There was no marketing of the Games done and there were essentially no TV Rights to broadcast and show the Games to the rest of Africa and the world.
Now fast forward to 2015 and 6 months to the start of the 12th Edition of the Games on September 4th, the major issue is infighting between the African National Olympic Committee Associations ANOCA and the African Union Sports Council (The AUSC is a revamped and new version of the now defunct Supreme Council For Sports in Africa) about who has the rights to run the All African Games as an event.
For some that pay close heed to the happenings in African sports circles you can remember after the 2011 flop of the All African Games, significant moves were made to ensure a future successful delivery of the Games. The mantle of hosting the Games was essentially handed over to ANOCA to not only grow and develop it into a fully functional international sports meets worthy of the quality, Africa’s elite athletes would love to be a part but a meet that they could also use as a Pre-Olympic Games qualifying event for the rest of the continents athletes.
Here we are again in 2015 and it seems that a redesigned Supreme Council for Sports in Africa in the guise of the African Union Sports Council is contesting the ownership of the Games and wants to reclaim it.
The issue of the contestation of who is really supposed to conduct and host the All African Games is really a trivial issue and should not be a matter that should derail the Games. As it is at this stage the organizing of the event by all standard is already behind schedule, lacking of much and below par at this stage in comparison to the way international meets are conducted elsewhere around the world.
As reported by Inside the Games Reporter; Liam Morgan who was at the International African Sports Convention (CISA) conference in Kigali Rwanda, there have not been any efforts to attain TV Rights to broadcast the Games till date.
“ “Political divisions surrounding organization of the All-Africa Games is a "chronic disease" within sport in the continent, Ugandan Sports Minister Charles Bakkabulindi claimed at the African International Sports Convention (CISA)” according to Liam Morgan; Inside The Games.
The frustration expressed by the Ugandan Sports Minister in his statement above about the ongoing infighting between the two bodies just goes to show the level of egocentrism and territorialism there is among Sports administrators on the continent, which also speaks to a broader issue of a lack of understanding of 21st Century Sports administration strategies, innovation and an understanding of the true value of sports as an industry.
If the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) wants to take over the running of the All African Games again I say again because they are essentially a resurrected version of the Supreme Council For Sports in Africa then let them have it.
ANOCA on the other hand should take this as an opportunity to work something out in consultation with the IOC and their member organization on the continent in creating a continental Olympic style event which will be uniquely branded by ANOCA. It will be an event that will be theirs and theirs only saving themselves all the unnecessary headache over a fight about ownership of the All African Games.
If ANOCA decides to organize its own meet then along with the already existing All African Games they would have helped increase the pool of Competitions available to African athletes and also essentially create a an uncontested revenue source for themselves.
For the upcoming games in Brazzaville I will say both bodies should agree to co-run it and find a way to resolve their problems amicably with a resolution that after the Brazzaville Games, ANOCA will go their separate way and create its own continental meet and leave the All African Games to the branch of the African Union that feels it is its responsibility to run the event.
With both bodies having their own event it ends up being a win win for both entities and also for athletes and the people of Africa. Now on the long term whichever one of these events survive the test of time will end up proving a point, but for now it is about the people and the athletes of Africa.