Egypt plans to submit an official bid to host the Summer Olympics in 2036, hoping to become the first African country to host the global tournament.
The Egyptian National Olympic Committee (ENOC) said International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach will discuss Egypt’s bid to host the Olympics when he meets with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on September 24.
“Bach’s visit to Cairo is very important to discuss many important issues,” ENOC chief Hisham Hatab said in a statement. “President Sisi’s meeting with Bach is an important milestone as it will demonstrate the President’s support for Egyptian sport and athletes for making history.”
While in Cairo, Bach will visit Egypt’s Olympic City in the New Administrative Capital, a $45 billion project under construction since 2015. He will also visit the ENOC premises and the Olympic Museum.
“Egypt has the potential to host all world events, including the World Cup,” Abdel Nasser Soliman, a sports analyst at Al-Gomhuria newspaper, told Al-Monitor by phone. “Egypt has state-of-the-art infrastructure ranging from closed stadiums and sports halls to a major Olympic city in the new administrative capital, which has playing fields for all kinds of sports.”
Egypt’s Olympic city is Africa’s second-largest sports complex – after South Africa’s FNB Stadium – with a stadium that can hold 93,400 spectators. It will also include two large sports halls, an Olympic swimming pool, a racecourse, tennis courts, squash facilities and training grounds, as well as administrative, cultural and hotel buildings.
Construction of the complex began in 2019 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. Once complete, Egypt’s Olympic city will be the largest such sports venue in Africa and the Middle East.
Kamilla Swart, a sports scientist and associate professor at Hamad bin Khalifa University in Qatar, believes Egypt is firmly committed to becoming the first African host of the Olympics.
“The Olympic Games have never been held on the African continent,” Swart told Al-Monitor. “With the IOC changing its bid processes to a more open dialogue with the potential host city, Egypt becomes a strong contender for the 2036 Olympic Games.”
Egypt is basing great hopes on Bach’s support for his candidacy for the organization of the Olympics. Last year, the IOC president expressed hope that Africa would host the Olympics by 2036.
Egypt will face stiff competition from countries like India, the UK, Turkey, Spain and Russia, which have expressed interest in hosting the 2036 games.
The 2024 Summer Olympics will be held in Paris, Los Angeles will host the games in the summer of 2028, and four years later the Summer Olympics will be held in Brisbane, Australia.
The only other African bid to host the Olympics came from Cape Town, South Africa, for the 2004 games, which were held in Athens. Senegal is set to become the first African country to stage the Youth Olympics when Dakar hosts in 2026.
“Egypt – like South Africa with the 2010 FIFA World Cup or Qatar with the 2022 World Cup – will face doubts about their abilities. But I think they will take a more easy, perhaps with a greater commitment to attend the first Olympic Games not only in Africa but also in the MENA region. [as was the case for Qatar and the 2022 FIFA World Cup]”said Swart.
“Egypt appear committed to their strategy of bolstering their portfolio of major international events, including a joint bid with Saudi Arabia and Greece for the 2030 FIFA World Cup.”
Last year, Egypt’s minister of youth and sports, Ashraf Sobhy, said he had secured the support of the president of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, Mustapha Berraf, for Egypt to an offer to organize the Olympic Games as a representative of the continent. “The authorities are currently preparing a full dossier in this regard which will be submitted with the proposed application to the IOC,” he told Sky News Arabia.
Egypt has hosted several major international tournaments in recent years. In 2017 and 2021, Cairo hosted the Modern Pentathlon World Championships. It has hosted the Africa Cup of Nations four times, the last in 2019, and the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations in November 2019. Early last year, Egypt hosted the FIFA U-23 Cup. world of handball despite the coronavirus pandemic and is preparing to host the next Summer Fencing World Championships.
Soliman believes hosting the Olympics will have major economic benefits for Egypt. “These benefits range from ticket sales, licensing, increased employment, broadcast revenue, sponsorships and increased tourist flows,” he said.
Egypt has participated in 23 Summer Olympics since its debut in Stockholm in 1912, winning eight gold, 11 silver and 19 bronze medals. The nation boycotted the 1932 and 1980 Olympics.