Other Sport

SASCOC - 2024 bid 'definite'

2011-07-27 11:25
Gideon Sam (Gallo)

Cape Town - South Africa's Olympics committee boss said on Wednesday he hoped the government would change its mind and endorse a bid to bring the 2020 summer Olympics to the continent, but a 2024 bid was definite.

"From an Olympic movement side, we have to keep our fingers crossed until the date has gone by," Gideon Sam said, referring to the September 1 deadline for bids to be lodged.

"I do support the cabinet decision in terms of how they feel at this point in time, but I still have to keep up the hope that on the last moment they may turn around and say go ahead."

In May, South Africa's cabinet ruled out a 2020 bid by Durban, but sports minister Fikile Mbalula has said he will keep lobbying the government.

The first African host of the football World Cup, South Africa will angle to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games and a 2024 Olympic bid will "definitely" be made, said Sam.

Olympics chief Jacques Rogge gave his stamp of approval to a potential bid by South Africa during the International Olympic Committee meeting earlier this month, saying: "The country is ready."

Rome, Madrid and Tokyo have so far announced their bids while Istanbul is also expected to do so shortly.

The nod from Rogge had boosted the confidence of South Africa, which poured billions of rands into new stadiums and overhauling transport facilities for the 2010 World Cup, in hosting big sports spectacles, said Sam.

"He said, 'I'll be back'. We took from that a very very clear message that we've now arrived at the level where we can compete with the rest of the world in terms of hosting events," he told a briefing ahead of a conference on sports and events tourism in Cape Town.

Local tourism authorities have identified the sector as an important niche market, while South Africa is also drawing attention as a sporting host for major global competitions.

"People are beginning to realise that there is something in this country that is attractive to all of them and I think that we'll be short changing ourselves if we were to sit back and not make use of these opportunities," said Sam.

Future possible events include the 2017 World Games in Cape Town, and the 2022 Commonwealth Games for which the country's name will be put forward later in November at the federation's meeting in the Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis.

The government in May said a "final" decision had been taken not to bid for the 2020 games so as to focus on rolling out basic government services in a country where one in five people have no electricity.

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