/ 25 July 2007

Olympic body may run All Africa Games

The African Olympic body is expected to take over the running of the All Africa Games to attract more private sponsors and top athletes, its president said on Tuesday.

The Games are currently organised by the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA), the sporting wing of the African Union. Critics say this exposes the Games to political interference and the administrative weaknesses of the host countries.

Lassana Palenfo, president of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (Anoca), said recommendations were made at a meeting of sports ministers and confederations in Ethiopia in June that the body take over the Games’ running.

”[Sports] ministers were given those recommendations and a decision is expected to be made by December to make the Games an Anoca event,” he said.

”That is the only way to make these Games more appealing to the private sector to attract top athletes,” said the Ivorian.

Many leading athletes did not show up at the latest edition of the four-yearly Games, which ended in Algiers on Monday, because they regarded the event as less demanding or prestigious than events affiliated to Olympic bodies.

The most recent Games provided evidence of some of the weaknesses of the current arrangement in which host nations carry most of the burden of setting up and financing the event.

Some delegates, competitors and journalists did not get their accreditation until five days after the Games started and delegates said there were not enough translators. They also said competition venues and fixtures were altered haphazardly.

Organisers responded that some African countries sent in their accreditation details to Algiers far too late.

Private sponsorship was minimal in a country that has an old-fashioned command economy that is struggling to liberalise and adapt to globalisation.

Critics say that because of scant private sector interest, the Games will always tend to be held in richer nations like South Africa and Nigeria, which hosted the past two editions, and the Arab north. – Reuters