Egypt ambitious for Paris Olympics success with an eye on 2036

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Egypt will take its biggest ever delegation to the Paris Olympics with the hope of exceeding its record medal haul from three years ago and continue to build its credentials for a possible tilt at hosting the Summer Games in 2036.

Although the final decision on whether to launch a bid to bring the Olympics to Africa for the first time will rest with the government, a senior official at the country’s Olympic committee told Reuters that it was no pipe dream.

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“The State-of-the-Art sports infrastructure Egypt built during the last few years encouraged the country to think about organizing games to exploit the great human and organizational capabilities” said Mohamed Abdel Aziz Ghoneim, Egyptian Olympic Committee (EOC) Treasurer.

“IOC President Thomas Bach said on a recent visit to our country that Egypt is ready to organize the Olympic Games and has come a long way, reaching 60 percent of the organizing efforts, including facilities, roads. The rest are related to budget and financial issues.”

The most populous country in the Arab world, Egypt has spent billions of dollars building facilities, stadiums and sports cities, in recent years as part of its plans to modernize the country.

The Egypt International Olympic City in the new administrative capital the country has been building east of Cairo since 2015 is planned to have a 93,900-capacity national stadium and 21 other sports facilities.

Ghoneim, who also heads the Egyptian Boxing Federation (EGF), said the EOC were no less ambitious for their delegation at the country’s 24th Summer Olympics in Paris in July and August.

In Tokyo three years ago, Egypt’s 132 athletes won six medals -- a gold, a silver and four bronzes -- for the country’s biggest haul at one Games.

So far, 142 male and female athletes in 21 sports have qualified for Paris and Ghoneim expects this number will increase to around 150 after the Olympic qualifying events are completed.

“This large number was achieved thanks to the efforts of all Egyptian sports federations, which worked hard in cooperation with the Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Youth in order to reach the best preparation ever for the athletes,” Ghoneim said.

“The size of our Olympic team increased compared to past editions because of the qualifications in football, volleyball and handball for the Paris Games, in addition to strong results by a number of federations.”

Among those was the EGF with two male fighters making the grade and bantamweight Youmna Ayyad becoming the first Egyptian woman boxer to get to the Olympics.

Youmna, from coastal city of Damietta, began her career in combat sports such as karate and kung fu and won a bronze medal at the 2022 Mediterranean Games -- Egypt’s first in women’s boxing.

Egyptian women did not compete until the 1972 Munich Games and Feryal Ashraf won their first gold medal in Tokyo three years ago in the karate competition, which will be absent from this year’s Games.

Although confident, Ghoneim was not prepared predict how many medals Egypt would win.

“All the federations did their best, and success is in God’s hands,” he said.

“The competition will be very fierce against world champions, but we trust our athletes and the results they have achieved so far are the best evidence.”

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