Besides commemorating the advent of the Olympic games of modern times, Olympic Day also aims at encouraging people from all walks of life to adopt and maintain a healthy way of life while celebrating the values of excellence, friendship and respect. It developed over the years and has today become the main event that celebrates the Olympic Movement and extols a healthy and active way of life.
Though the Olympic Day Race, instituted by the IOC to encourage all NOCs to celebrate this event and promote mass sports participation has remained the cornerstone of the annual celebration of this event in Africa and the world over, the initial concept has nevertheless evolved. Today, Olympic Day is more than just a mere race and its organisation is predicated on three fundamental pillars: “move, learn and discover.” In Africa, we have for several years now fully understood this philosophy and we avail ourselves of this platform to brainstorm a number of issues and especially celebrate Olympism around the aforementioned pillars.
In Africa, Olympic Day 2017 has to be a moment of joy and exaltation, a day to share Olympic values. As recommended by IOC, it should be marked by the adoption and effective practice of the fundamentals above: “move, learn and discover.” This trinity should, in many respects, enable the African Olympic Movement to celebrate this year’s day by blending physical exercise and the furtherance of Olympism. The latter is, as defined by the Olympic Charter, “a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind; blending sport with culture and education.” Move: encouraging people to be in motion on this occasion, especially by practising physical activities meant for people of all ages regardless of their ability. Learn may warrant each NOC to reflect on the contribution of sport to major issues of concern to our continent such as education, health promotion, peace, the fight against hunger and desertification, prevention of HIV and viral hepatitis, empowering women and young girls, protection of the environment… Discover must also be at the core of celebrations, since the event is an ideal opportunity for us to showcase new sports and activities that are not always in the spotlight in our environment. Africa is often referred to as a football and athletics continent, given the popularity of these disciplines and the fact that government leaders have placed them in a privileged position. Olympic Day may enable us to help participants discover new sports, since they can also fetch us medals just like football and athletics.
At operational level, this Olympic Day in Africa should feature several physical and sporting activities, manual work or cultural workshops, lectures, sports demonstrations and meetings with Olympic athletes. Other events should be organised at the level of Regional Olympic Committees, schools and universities, remote communities…”
Intendant General Lassana Palenfo, President of ANOCA