11 January 2024 – Twelve athletes from seven African countries, all recipients of Olympic Solidarity Scholarships for Paris 2024, were welcomed at Olympic House and the Olympic Museum during a two-day visit to Lausanne. Five of them, who took part in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and Rio 2016, were invited to sign the Olympians Wall in the presence of IOC President Thomas Bach.
Competing in athletics, boxing, judo and swimming, the visiting athletes are all currently training at the Centre Régional Jeunesse et Sports (CRJS) Petit-Couronne (France) with a view to qualifying for Paris 2024, thanks to their selection by their respective National Olympic Committees (NOCs) for an Olympic Solidarity scholarship. The training programme, hosted at an elite-level facility approximately two hours northwest of Paris, is the result of a partnership between Olympic Solidarity and the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF).
During their stay in Lausanne, the athletes were given the chance to immerse themselves in the Olympic values, history and culture, with various workshops at Olympic House and a visit to the Olympic Museum.
The group included five Olympians, who were invited to sign the Olympians Wall at Olympic House. Four of these athletes competed at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: judokas Housni Thaoubani (COM) and Ismael Alhassane (NIG), plus sprinters Seco Camara (GBS) and Natacha Ngoye Akamabi (CGO), who was a flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony. Judoka Andrew Mlugu (TAN) competed at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, and was also a flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony.
An elite-level facility to help fulfil Olympic dreams
The CRJS has played host to scholarship-holders from around the world since 2010, providing an elite-level training facility to help them fulfil their Olympic dreams, while also allowing the centre’s young French students, aged 12 to 18, to engage with athletes from different backgrounds and cultures.
Thanks to the infrastructure and facilities available at the centre, I was able to significantly improve my level. This led me to win a silver medal at the African Open in Dakar, Senegal, last year.
Andrew Mlugu (TAN) Olympian, Rio 2016
Seven other athletes training at the facility took part in the visit, including swimmer Salima Youssoufou Ahmadou (NIG), who competed at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018, as well as judokas Abdoulaye Millimono (GUI), Jason Patrick Zacko Ngawili (CAF) and Resquain Graig Logan Mongondo (CAF), boxer Moussa Sahabi Gado (NIG) and swimmer Fode Amara Camara (GUI).
It would be such an honour to represent my country at the Olympic Games. Training in France has allowed me not only to improve my performance but also to meet athletes from other horizons and learn a lot about society.
Salima Youssoufou Ahmadou Nigeria
Scholarship-holders reaching and succeeding at the Games
Olympic Solidarity has delivered great success over the years, helping athletes who otherwise might not have been able to progress their sporting careers. At Tokyo 2020, 827 Olympic scholarship-holders qualified and took part in the Games, winning a total of 30 gold, 26 silver and 47 bronze medals between them.
For Paris 2024, nearly 1,300 individual scholarships have already been awarded to athletes from 145 NOCs.
NOCs with larger delegations can also benefit from Olympic Scholarships for their athletes via a “tailor-made” option, which provides additional flexibility in the use of the support. Some 36 additional NOCs are already benefitting from this option for Paris 2024, with over 50 having used the option for Tokyo 2020.
Giving athletes an equal chance
Olympic Solidarity aims to ensure that talented athletes of all backgrounds have an equal chance of reaching and succeeding in the Olympic arena by providing crucial funding to help finance their Olympic dreams. With a particular focus on athletes and NOCs most in need, individual scholarship-holders receive financial support through monthly grants that contribute to their preparation and qualification for the Games, whether in their home country or at a high-level training centre.