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13th African Games – Accra, Ghana from March 8-23, 2024 |09 March 2024

13th African Games – Accra, Ghana from March 8-23, 2024

Team Seychelles in high spirit despite hitches at Games’ official launch


Themed ‘Experience the African Dream’, the much-awaited 13th African Games were officially launched yesterday with the opening ceremony held at the University of Ghana Sports Stadium in Accra, Ghana, despite the many hiccups and hitches surrounding the event, triggering many questions on whether Ghana was really ready to host the continental sporting manifestation.

Gathering over 5,000 elite athletes from across Africa, the event from March 8 to 23 serves as official qualifier for the XXXIII Olympic Games set for Paris, France later during the year.

Yesterday’s official opening ceremony showcased the unique cultural heritage, sporting talent of the African continent and its diversity.

With Minister for Youth, Sports and Family Marie-Celine Zialor representing the Seychelles government, the ceremony brought together heads of states, and high-level dignitaries, including Ghanaian President Nana Akufo Addo; Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairperson of African Union Commission; Minata Samate Cessouma, commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development (HHS) at the African Union Commission; among others, and athletes, while no officials were allowed to attend the ceremony.

The ceremony included the handing over ceremony of the AU flag by the AU Commission to the government of Ghana, traditional African performances and cultural displays, parade of nations with participating athletes, lighting of the African Games torch, speeches by the President of Ghana, and the chairperson of the African Union Commission.

The event was concluded by fireworks display and musical performances from some of Ghana's finest musicians, including highlife legends Pat Thomas and Ebo Taylor, and contemporary stars Shatta Wale and King Promise. South African singer and dancer Kamo Mphela also graced the stage, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Since no officials were allowed, chef de mission Lucas Georges, following discussions with team managers, decided that Seychellois athletes aged below 18 years old, would not attend the ceremony.

According to Mr Georges, many countries complained about the decision, but were told by local organising committee that the decision was taken based on the country’s protocol.

Based on that decision, many countries decided not to take part in the opening ceremony.

It was also made clear that no means of transportation were to be provided, with the athletes walking to and from the ceremony.

In the absence of Sportsman of the Year Keddy Agnes who is still in a training camp in Italy, judoka Nantenaina Finesse and volleyball player Angelique Adeline were Seychelles’ flagbearers at the ceremony.

Despite all the difficulties, the contingent of resilient local athletes said they are all ready to beat the odd and compete for the country.

Speaking to local media about the difficulties, Mr Georges explained that most of the dormitories at the Games’ Village are not in acceptable condition, while the Seychelles’ Games secretariat was lucky to receive the keys in advance, giving them enough time to sort things out, before the first batch of athletes arrived on Thursday.

This, he said, is a luxury that most of the other countries did not have, leaving their athletes to face the unwelcoming state of the rooms on arrival.

Another major issue is to do with the accreditation badges which are not recognised by scanning devices, preventing athletes and officials from having access to important facilities, including the cafeteria, or restaurant where food is served.

Most of the daily running at the event contradicts whatever is written in the guidelines which is crucial in maintaining the smooth running of the event.

Another issue is in relation to a transportation application (App) which was to ease the movement of athletes to and from competition and training venues.

It is also worth noting that even after the official opening yesterday, no fixtures, or programme whatsoever were ready, even with some competitions already ongoing.

Seychelles will be competing in six sports disciplines – track and field athletics, judo, swimming, women’s volleyball, boxing, and weightlifting.

The first group of athletes and officials arrived in Accra on Thursday, while the second group will land on Tuesday.

Events of the delayed 2023 African Games are being held in Accra, Cape Coast and Kumasi, Ghana's second-largest city.

Table tennis was the first event to launch, with Egypt clinching the gold medal in both the men's and women's singles events, while the football competition kicked off on Thursday.


Text and photos: Roland Duval in Accra




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