What is generally regarded as Africa’s version of the Olympic Games is officially underway in Rabat, Morocco. The Opening Ceremony of the 12th African Games was held Monday night at the Prince Moulay Abdellah stadium.
As expected, at the colourful ceremony, all the participating countries had a march past to showcase their contingent as well as a bit of their culture.
The President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Ahmad Ahmad, the President of the Union of African Sports Confederations (UCSA), Ahmed Naseer; as well as the Kingdom of Morocco’s Minister of sports, Moulay Rachid, were all present at the event.
Also, a former member of the House of Representatives and head of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Women Football Committee, Ayo Omidiran, was in attendance.
Nigeria has the second-largest contingent of 427 athletes and officials. The Nigerian team is led by table tennis legend Segun Toriola.
This will be the first time that the African Games will be hosted by Morocco following the country’s readmission to the African Union.
With more than 7,000 athletes from 54 nations expected in Rabat, this is also the largest ever African Games.
The Games unofficially commenced last Friday with some team events such as football, volleyball and judo. Some events have even been concluded and medals awarded.
Already, the traditional medal table-topper, Egypt, is ahead following a pre-opening ceremony haul of four gold and four silver medals.
Other countries already on the medals’ table are Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Gabon, and Cameroon.
Also on the medals table are Senegal, Cameroon, South Africa, Mauritius, Chad Congo, and Djibouti.
The more than 7,000 athletes will participate across 26 sports, The competition will end on August 31.
Some events will also serve as qualifying tournaments for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
These include athletics, rowing, canoeing, karate, swimming, weightlifting, beach volleyball, tennis, cycling, judo, wrestling, and taekwondo.
Others in which competitors also aim for places at the Olympics are table tennis, fencing, sports shooting, archery, badminton, and triathlon.
Egypt will be gunning to top the overall medal table for the sixth time in Rabat, having done so for the fifth time at the 2015 edition in Brazzaville after claiming 85 gold, 63 silver, and 68 bronze medals.
Nigeria has only topped the overall medals’ table once when it hosted the 2003 edition in Abuja.
Meanwhile, Ghana has been selected as the host of the 13th African Games in 2023.
Accra, the capital of Ghana, will be hosting the 13th edition of African Games for the first time.