PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday officially declared the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games officially open amid pomp and fanfare at Barbourfields Stadium.
Addressing crowds who attended the ceremony, Mugabe, who officiated at the late former diplomat Kotsho Dube’s burial at the National Heroes’ Acre, Harare, before flying to Bulawayo, urged the athletes taking part in the games to abstain from drugs.
“We are told that when the youth are below 20, they are at the best stage of bringing out they psycho-social-physical sporting potential which they as young people are endowed with,” he said.
“I, therefore, urge all the participants-cum-competitors to use this regional competition to shine. Give it all your best.
“I wish to implore all the youths to always abstain from taking drugs and other intoxicating substances. I urge them to adhere to the safe and clean sport ethics as enshrined in the anti-doping code. All participants are expected to exhibit the best virtues of Olympism that is commensurate with our intrinsic values of ubuntu and these include; integrity, fairness, co-operation, dutifulness, dedication, patriotism, to mention but a few. May the winners be graceful in victory and the losers humble in defeat.”
The president said the games had changed the landscape of Bulawayo saying local sports infrastructure had been vastly improved.
“The AUSC Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games have, in many respects, changed the landscape of Bulawayo,” he said.
“Since November 2012 when we signed the protocol agreement, the government of Zimbabwe has immensely improved the local infrastructure of sport competition venues, accommodation facilities, road and communication networks.
“The games have, therefore, brought numerous business opportunities for local enterprises. They have created employment opportunities for our people in Bulawayo, and those from the surrounding areas, and from afar afield . . .
“It is my singular honour and pleasure to declare the 2014 AUSC Region 5 Under-20 Youth Game officially open.”
Speaking at the same ceremony graced by officials from the AUSC and Sport ministers from the participating countries, Sport, Arts and Culture minister Andrew Langa said the games would leave a lifetime legacy for the City of Kings.
“I would like to assure all our visitors a safe stay in our country and also invite all athletes and officials to feel at home and enjoy the warm welcome that we are extending as a nation,” he said.
“May you all perform to the best of your ability in the games.”
AUSC Region 5 secretary-general Mvuzo Mbebe paid tribute to Zimbabwe for hosting the games saying 1 370 athletes were in
the country to take part in the games.
The games started on Friday and end next Sunday.