Countdown to African Games, Accra 2023 begins

Countdown to African Games, Accra 2023 begins

History will be made in the next 25 days when the nation hosts the much-anticipated 2023 African Games for the first time in 59 years.

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The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, set the final countdown into motion yesterday when he inaugurated the Borteyman Sports Complex in Accra to underline the nation’s readiness to stage a memorable event.

The grand ceremony has put to rest any lingering doubt about Ghana’s ability to host the continent’s biggest multi-sport competition following some hiccups in its preparations.

Much as it is quite surprising that a sporting giant such as Ghana is hosting the African Games, formerly the All Africa Games or the Pan Africa Games.

For the first time after the maiden edition in Congo, Brazzaville in 1965, it is better late than never.

Hosting a multi-sport competition for the entire continent for 16 days is no joke.

That is why the government deserves a pat on the back for gathering the courage to make it a dream come true at long last.

However, Ghanaians will be the first to admit that the nation did not have it rosy in its preparations towards the Games after failing to meet previous timelines due to organisational technicalities and delayed completion of facilities.

Those challenges did not only delay the event, originally scheduled for 2023, but also threatened Ghana’s hosting bid as rumours were rife during those dark moments that the AU had stripped us of the rights.

Though we have come this far at a high price, having sunk a fortune into the construction of the Borteyman Sports Complex and the other facilities, the nation stands to reap the economic benefits of the Games.

For the first time, Ghana can boast of a modern aquatic centre with a 1,000-seating capacity swimming pool, made up of a 10-lane competition swimming pool, an eight-lane warm-up swimming pool, and a multi-purpose sports hall capable of seating 1,000 spectators for various events such as basketball, badminton, netball, table tennis and weightlifting.

In addition to that is a 500-seater temporary dome for handball, volleyball, judo, karate, taekwondo, fencing, armwrestling, and five tennis courts complex, including a centre court that can seat 1,000 people.

 This is quite remarkable!

This is not to talk of the facelift of the University of Ghana Stadium, the Accra sports Stadium and the Trust Emporium for disciplines such as football, athletics and boxing.

With all these facilities in place, it goes without saying that the legacy of the Games cannot be quantified in monetary terms.

We only hope that an effective maintenance culture will be put in place to preserve them for posterity and also protect the nation’s huge investment.

We are also in favour of the idea to convert the Borteyman Complex into a sports university to protect the legacy and also train more sporting talents and officials for the various disciplines.

In all, over 8,000 athletes, officials and fans from across Africa are expected to converge on Accra for this prestigious sports festival, in addition to the millions of eyeballs which will follow the proceedings on television and social media.

This clearly means Ghana will be the focus of global attention during the period of the Games.

And that is the more reason we cannot afford to disappoint.

As the final countdown begins, we wish to entreat all to get on board to make history as demanded by President Akufo-Addo.

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Albeit on a lower scale, Ghana hosted a remarkable Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 2008 to the admiration of all.

On that occasion, it was beautiful to see how all Ghanaians rallied themselves around the flag to ensure a befitting AFCON hosting which now serves as a reference point at the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

That is a testament to Ghanaians’ legendary tenacity to rise to the occasion when it matters most.

While the general organisation of the games is the primary responsibility of the LOC chaired by Dr Kwaku Ofosu-Asare and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, it is incumbent on all citizens to offer them the necessary support in diverse ways.

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For instance, to successfully host the thousands of visitors who will throng the country next month, a lot of volunteers will be needed to play various roles. It is in view of this that we urge the youth to avail themselves by visiting the LOC’s volunteers portal for registration.

In spite of all these, it is significant to note that the joy of Ghanaians will only be complete if our athletes excel at the upcoming competition.

Even more important is the fact that eight disciplines out of the lot — athletics, swimming, cycling, table tennis, triathlon, badminton, wrestling and tennis — will double as qualifiers for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

It is quite refreshing to note that most of Ghana’s athletes for the African Games have been preparing in Cape Coast since late last year, with the exception of the US-based track and field stars led by top sprinter, Benjamin Azamati.

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In football where Ghana has a competitive advantage, the Black Satellites (U-20) have been preparing feverishly at Prampram for some time now, while their female counterparts, the Black Princesses, flew to France last week to finalise their preparations.

We believe with the needed motivation and massive support, our athletes will make us proud by recording a historic medal haul on home soil.

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