Ashraf Sobhy,  the Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports, receives the African Games flag to signify Egypt as the next host country
Ashraf Sobhy, the Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports, receives the African Games flag to signify Egypt as the next host country
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African Games end with spectacular ceremony

Ghana officially handed over the Games Flag to the next hosts of the African Games, Egypt, marking the end of this year's event at a spectacular closing ceremony held in front of a capacity crowd of 11,000 at the University of Ghana Stadium, Accra, last Saturday.

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The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mustapha Ussif, handed over the flag to the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, Minata Samate Cessouma, who then presented it to the Egyptian Minister of Youth & Sports, Ashraf Sobhy.

It was a ceremony that signified the conclusion of 20 days of athletic competition in Accra with Egypt taking the baton as the next host of the African Games in 2027.

Closing Ceremony

Euphoria filled the country following Team Ghana's gold rush last Friday in boxing, football and hockey. Students from some senior high schools (SHSs) were among the spectators who began arriving at the venue as early as 3:30 p.m.

By 4:30, the stadium was filled to capacity, with some standing room only and thousands unable to enter.

Those inside were thrilled by performances from traditional masqueraders and the Police Marching Band, which welcomed President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

In his farewell address, President Akufo-Addo expressed his pride and gratitude. He highlighted how the event provided an opportunity to strengthen bonds and socio-economic relations between African countries.

The President commended the high level of performance by the over 5,000 athletes and the dedication of officials and volunteers involved in the games.

"These games embodied the true spirit of African diversity, unity, and our common purpose of promoting our continent," he said.

"The outstanding performances, display of sportsmanship, and competition that produced personal bests, national records, and competition records will undoubtedly inspire upcoming athletes to aim even higher," the President added.

President Akufo-Addo expressed his delight that despite challenges, Ghana was able to provide world-class sporting facilities. He mentioned the construction and rehabilitation of facilities such as the Borteyman Sports Complex, University of Ghana Stadium, Theodosia Okoh Stadium, Achimota Cricket Oval and Bukom Boxing Arena, as proof of Ghana's commitment to sports development.

He assured the public that the facilities would be maintained and serve as venues for training future champions and hosting local and international tournaments, as well as become the nucleus of a soon-to-be-established University of Sports for Development.

The President also expressed gratitude to all Ghanaians for their enthusiastic support of the athletes throughout the competition. He congratulated the athletes on their performances and urged them to carry their good form into the Paris Olympics to bring further glory to the continent.

"May the memories of these Games inspire us to work towards a brighter, more prosperous and more united future for Africa and her peoples. Accordingly, ladies and gentlemen, I have the pleasure to declare the 13th African Games (Accra 2023), successfully closed..."

Local organisers hail success

Before the President's address, the Executive Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the Games, Dr Kwaku Ofosu-Asare, expressed gratitude to all stakeholders for their support in organising "one of the best Games ever in the history of the African Games".

He singled out President Akufo-Addo, the African Union Sports Commission, the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, the media, security services, athletes and the African Union for their contributions.

Dr Asare emphasised that the maintenance of the facilities would be a collective responsibility of all Ghanaians. He assured them that with the President's support, the University of Sports for Development would soon be established using the facilities at Borteyman, which would serve as a lasting legacy of the Games.

Hosting achievements

The minister of Youth and Sports commended the immense effort and dedication that went into hosting the African Games. He acknowledged President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo's vision and passion for sports as pivotal in making Accra 2023 a reality.

The minister highlighted Ghana's long-held aspiration to host such a prestigious event, a dream that materialised with the country winning the bid in 2018, despite facing challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and diplomatic hurdles within sports organisations.

Expressing gratitude to President Akufo-Addo for his diplomatic interventions that resolved key issues and ensured the success of Accra 2023, the minister acknowledged the collaborative efforts of various government ministries, agencies and the LOC, led by Dr Ofosu-Asare.

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Mr Ussif praised the contributions of athletes, technical officials, volunteers and the media, emphasising their indispensable roles in the Games' success.

Looking ahead, he invited international sports organisations to consider Accra for future events. He said that would solidify the city's status as an African Sports City beyond 2024.

The AU Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, Ambassador Minata Samate Cessouma, commended Ghana for hosting a successful Games. She expressed gratitude to both the government and the people of Ghana for their hospitality and significant investment in sports infrastructure.

Thrilling climax

The closing ceremony reached its climax at 7:30 p.m. with a series of thrilling performances by some of Africa's finest artists. Ghanaian artist Stonebwoy stole the show, leaving over 10,000 fans ecstatic with his energetic performance.

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His opening act featuring the hit song "Kpo Keke" brought the venue alive, further enhanced by the fireworks and lighting display.  The award-winning artist performed many of his hit songs, including his new single with Nigerian artist Odumodulvck to end the show on a high note. 

Other performers

The night's musical performances opened with Africa's music lioness Wiyaala, who brought her unique energy to the stage, captivating the cheering crowd. Cameroonian rapper Stanley Enow, impeccably dressed, also made a strong impression, as did Congolese musician Innoss'B.

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