11th Indian Ocean Island Games 2023 – Madagascar |27 May 2023
11th Games will definitely take place, confirms the Malagasy authority
Madagascar will definitely host the 11th Indian Ocean Islands Games from August 25 to September 3 and the country will be ready in every area of organisation, including sports facilities and logistics, President Andry Rajoelina has confirmed.
The Malagasy president made the declaration on May 19, during a special ceremony in Ivato to officially unveil the Games’ anthem, logo and mascot.
Three months before the event, President Rajoelina has asked the officials of the Ministry of Sports to roll up their sleeves to meet the deadlines.
The 2023 Games will be the 11th multi-sport event for athletes representing the National Olympic Committees of Indian Ocean island nations. The Maldives were the original hosts, but withdrew from hosting in January 2021, and were replaced by Madagascar.
It will be Madagascar’s third time as hosts, after organising the Games in 1990 and 2007.
President of the Seychelles Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association (Socga) Antonio Gopal, who also holds the post of president of the International Games Committee (CIJ), recently led a local delegation to Madagascar to attend the committee’s meeting.
Other than attending the meeting, the Seychelles delegation which also included Socga’s secretary general Alain Alcindor and ordinary member Elsia Vidot, along with advisor within the youth and sports department Kevin Vidot who was representing Sports Minister Marie-Celine Zialor, joined representatives of other participating island nations to meet with the organisers and assess the ongoing progress in preparation, precisely the various venues where the 17 chosen sporting disciplines will take place.
Members of the delegation yesterday held a press conference at the Olympic House at Roche Caïman where they gave an update on the progress, as well as new development regarding the Games.
Will the 11th Games take place or not, was the central theme of the CIJ meeting and despite the unfavourable echoes coming from Madagascar over the past few months, the organising committee maintains that the Games will take place.
Malagasy Minister for Youth and Sports, André Haja Resampa noted that, at this level, it is done, calming down the most sceptical.
He thus swept aside the doubts surrounding the holding of the event which emerged from the silence of the Malagasy authorities in recent months.
In terms of infrastructure, Minister Resampa, who is also the chairman of the organising committee, maintained that everything is under control, thanks in particular to the support of the Chinese government, with the latter donating sports equipment.
“We are already well advanced, and we have, in addition to the Barea Stadium, the architectural jewel of the Indian Ocean in terms of sports, 18 gymnasiums across the country, and several stadiums. We are going to finish the infrastructures that still need to be rehabilitated, but we have passed the hardest part,” noted Minister Resampa.
The Barea stadium, located in Tana, will be the heart of the Games in a way, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies, football and some athletics events.
It was also decided that the organising committees will accommodate all delegations in hotels, and there will therefore be no Games Village.
However, Madagascar will have to show that it can accommodate all the delegations in enough hotels of acceptable standard.
Competitions in Antananarivo only
The Malagasy government insisted on grouping the entire event in the city of Antananarivo only, leaving on the floor the entire beach and nautical sports which were to be held among others in Majunga, Fort-Dauphin, Tulear, and Sainte-Marie.
For that reason, members of the CIJ dashed the hopes of athletes from all islands who were already preparing for these Games, by striking off no less than eight sports from the list. These include surfing, sailing, taekwondo, kick-boxing, archery, horse riding and beach volleyball as well as beach soccer, women’s football, and women’s boxing.
It should be noted that beach volleyball and beach soccer are not counted as disciplines in their own rights, but as part of the volleyball and football disciplines respectively. This is why in total, even if eight sports have been excluded from these Games, there are still 17 disciplines on the programme out of the 23 at the start.
On the other hand, in the remaining disciplines, the number of athletes could be increased.
Seychelles, like some other participating countries, would like to see at least sailing and beach volleyball maintained. It remains to be seen whether they will succeed in convincing the organising country to deploy means outside Antananarivo so that athletes from these disciplines can compete.
International tournaments for the excluded disciplines
For the athletes who had been preparing for the Games for months but whose sports have been excluded, discussions on the possibility of having inter-island tournaments started during the CIJ meeting, so as not to leave anyone behind, taking into account the security and financial issues in Madagascar.
It was suggested that these tournaments would be held later in the year, after the IOIG, in various other participating countries.
The option remains to be defined in the coming weeks, before the next meeting of the CIJ in June.
Maki the mascot
As for the logo and the mascot, they bear the image of one of the most emblematic animals of Madagascar, the endemic white and black ring-tailed lemur, also called ‘Maki’.
It was on Friday May 19, during a major official ceremony in Ivato, that the organising country presented the anthem and the mascot of the 11th Games.
The presentation was made on the evening of the second day of meeting of the CIJ. President Rajoelina was present at this ceremony, expressing the pride of the Malagasy in hosting the Games for the third time.
Preliminary count of 575 athletes and officials to defend the Seychelles flag
Based on a preliminary count, Seychelles will be represented at the 11th Games by a contingent of 575 personnel, including athletes – 225 males and 155 females – who will take part in 17 sports disciplines, coaches, officials, representatives of sporting federations and associations, along with members of the volet jeunesse team.
On behalf of the government, Mr Vidot invited all local businesses onboard, to bring their support in terms of sponsorship for Team Seychelles at the Games.
Compiled By Roland Duval
Photos courtesy of the Malagasy Olympic Committee