Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa. ANOCA

In a growing tide of international backlash, the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa has expressed its disapproval of World Athletics' initiative to offer prize money to gold medallists in Paris 2024. A move it described as "repugnant to the fundamental principles of the Olympic Movement."

At its two-day 61st session in Abuja, Nigeria, the African federation, presided over by Mustapha Berraf, reaffirmed its full support for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its leadership and blasted the International Federation after it announced last week that it will make history by becoming the first to distribute prize money at the Olympic Games, starting with Paris 2024 in August.

"ANOCA reiterates its disapproval of the recent decision by World Athletics to offer prize money to gold medallists at the Paris Olympic Games. This decision by the International Federation, although sovereign, is repugnant to the fundamental principles of the Olympic Movement," the association stated in a press release.

African Olympic officials aren't the only ones opposed to what World Athletics president Sebastian Coe had glowingly described as "a pivotal moment for World Athletics and the sport of athletics as a whole". The federation's announced plan is for champions to receive $50,000 (€47,000) at Paris 2024, with silver and bronze medallists also being rewarded from LA 2028 onward.

Former IOC marketing director Michael Payne, an Irishman with close ties to the told AFP: "What surprised everyone is that Coe made the decision unilaterally, with one hour's warning to the IOC and zero hours warning to the other federations. The federations feel, not unreasonably, that they have been thrown under the bus. What are you going to do just three months before Paris?"

Meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa in Abuja, Nigeria. ANOCA
Meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa in Abuja, Nigeria. ANOCA

On the geopolitical front, ANOCA called for a show of international solidarity to support the athletes and the NOC of conflict-torn Sudan, while recalling that it was the first to support the participation of all athletes, including those from Russia and Belarus, in Paris 2024. "This is in line with the IOC commitments and the Olympic Charter. ANOCA calls for the neutrality of sport and the politicisation of its many multidimensional activities," the press release stressed. 

Committee members condemned "the unethical behaviour of some officials, who use disrespectful language to undermine solidarity within the IOC," strongly urged all Olympic athletes to participate in accordance with IOC standards and called on the world's political authorities to uphold the Olympic TRUCE, which is synonymous with peace and respect for the well-being of humanity.

"Together, through our solidarity and fraternity, through dialogue and consultation, we have succeeded in giving our continental organisation another dimension, another image, that of progress and modernity. We are sure that our participation in the Olympic Games will showcase the intrinsic qualities of our athletes," said Berraf.

The members confirmed that a single edition of the African Games will be held in Egypt in 2027, to be organised jointly by the African Union (AU), the Egyptian government and ANOCA, and also pledged to bring African delegations together for the success of the forthcoming Youth Olympic Games and the Beach Games.