The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today inaugurated a new sports complex in Lusaka, Zambia, in the presence of IOC President Jacques Rogge, the President of the Republic of Zambia, Rupiah Banda, and some 2,000 people, including 600 youngsters who used the state-of-the-art facilities for the first time.
The Olympic Youth Development Centre in Lusaka is the first of its kind. Its main purpose is to help enhance sports development in Zambia by offering sports competitions and training facilities, but it will also provide a wide range of educational programmes, health services and community activities to athletes and the general public in the region.
The centre is set up as a multi-purpose complex, including outdoor and indoor facilities as well as a number of educational and cultural areas, such as classrooms, a library, an internet zone and offices.
Led by the IOC, the project was undertaken in partnership with the Zambian government, which donated the land to the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Zambia, and the six International Federations (IFs) of athletics, basketball, boxing, weightlifting, handball and hockey, which helped to develop the sports facilities and offered technical expertise as well as financial assistance. The IOC was in charge of the overall construction phase and will, together with the other stakeholders, continue to support the Zambian NOC, which will now look after the running and maintenance of the centre.
“I am very proud to officially open the first Youth Olympic Development Centre here in Lusaka,” said President Rogge in his inauguration speech. “This project would not have seen the light without the unfailing commitment of the government of Zambia, the International and National Sports Federations and the Zambian NOC. Like in sports, teamwork led to this success and I am confident that the centre will become not only the home of many elite regional and international athletes, but also the home of thousands of kids who will learn about sport and life. I look forward to seeing the place grow and inspire us to build similar centres in other regions of the world,” he concluded.
The Olympic Youth Development Centre in Lusaka is part of the Sports for Hope Programme initiated by the IOC to provide athletes, young people and communities in developing countries with better opportunities to practise sport and to be exposed to the Olympic values. Ensuring that every individual has access to sport is one of the fundamental principles of Olympism and the IOC works constantly towards making this vision a reality. The IOC is currently investigating possibilities to replicate the project on other continents.