ANOCA criticised a separate agreement the AU signed with hosts Ghana ©ANOCA

The Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) has pledged its backing to the Accra 2023 African Games, after a row surfaced over the ownership of the event.

The Association of African Sports Confederations (AASC) reportedly threatened last month to instruct its members not to attend next year’s Games over an ownership dispute.

An Extraordinary General Assembly was held by ANOCA following concerns over Accra 2023.

The organisation said it was "dismayed" by the African Union (AU) signing a separate agreement with the Local Organising Committee.

A provisional agreement was originally reached by the AU, ANOCA and the AASC in 2016 to resolve a dispute over the ownership of the event.

The agreement gave the African Union (AU) ownership of the Games.

ANOCA was entrusted with the Games organisation and management, with the AASC entrusted with the technical coordination.

A full agreement was signed in 2018, with the organisations claiming the move would lead to an increase in quality and competitiveness of the Games, as well as improving revenue, sponsorship and marketing.

The agreement came amid calls for the African Games to serve as a qualification event for the Olympic Games.

ANOCA has said the separate agreement between the AU and Accra 2023 has reduced them to a third party.

The organisation has suggested it will reserve the right to organise its own qualifiers for the Olympic Games, separately from the event.

Resolutions were agreed at the ANOCA General Assembly, chaired by the organisation’s President Mustapha Berraf.

An agreement in 2016 had appeared to have ended disputes over the African Games ownership ©ANOCA
An agreement in 2016 had appeared to have ended disputes over the African Games ownership ©ANOCA

"Noting with dismay the signing by the AU administration with the Ghanaian Party of a second contract which runs counter to the first one binding the AU to ANOCA, and which commits Ghana to pay a sum of money to the AU in return for the organisation of the Games, which is tantamount to an unacceptable situation of lawlessness," the ANOCA General Assembly said.

"The General Assembly deplores the illegal and irreverent behaviour of the AU institutions and administrative officials involved in the conclusion of this second contract with Ghana, refuses to engage in this process contrary to the international rules for the organisation of multi-disciplinary Games and requests the ANOCA President to continue to defend the interests of the institution and the African Sports and Olympic family.

"The General Assembly reiterates its full support to Ghana for the success of the Games and this within the limits of its powers, which have been reduced to those of the third party due to its exclusion from the organisation and management of the Games.

"However, ANOCA will allow the Local Organising Committee of the Games to benefit from its entire marketing strategy and partners."

The dispute draws comparison to a dispute in the build-up to the 2015 All-Africa Games in Brazzaville.

The event was organised by the Sports Council of the AU, after talks with ANOCA broke down.

The dispute meant the Games did not serve as an Olympic qualifier, reducing the interest among athletes.

The 2016 agreement between the three parties around the Games appeared to have given the event stability.

Next year’s African Games are expected to take place in August.

It will be the first time Ghana has hosted the continental event.