Durban - The hard work begins today, warned eThekwini municipality city manager Sbu Sithole on Wednesday following the announcement that Durban would be hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
On the same cautionary note, he said the organisers would have to ensure the benefits of the games amounted to more than the cost of hosting the event.
Seventy-one nations of the Commonwealth Games Federation cast their vote in New Zealand on Wednesday morning.
Back home, more than 1 500 George Campbell High School pupils, along with city officials, gathered at the sports fields and watched the official announcement.
Speaking shortly afterwards, Sithole said he was ecstatic. “It has been a long journey and it took a lot of hard work and preparation.”
Sithole said the city had received a lot of support from the provincial and national governments.
“The municipality, province and national are each expected to contribute an equal amount of about R500 million. This means that we have to prioritise this money in our budgets over the next seven years.
“Some of the money will be required now as we prepare for the infrastructure and some of it closer to games.”
Sithole said he believed the games would accelerate investment in the city.
Durban will inherit athletes' village
“One of the biggest investments that is going to come out these games is the building of the athletes' village in Cornubia, which is one of our catalytic projects and an integrated development.
“We believe that post the Commonwealth [games], the athletes' village will be inherited by the people of Durban who require housing.”
Sithole said the city would make sure the games are run efficiently, that there are no cost overruns and that projects are done within the prescribed time.
“We need to work hard to deliver the best value proposition for the games all round, so that the next benefits of the games are much more than the cost of hosting the event.”
Having hosted some of the FIFA World Cup games in 2010, Sithole said the city would be doing things a little differently.
“We learnt from hosting the World Cup that we must not exaggerate the benefits of hosting these events. We need to be a little smarter in how we deal with empowerment issues.
“The benefit this time is that we have infrastructure in place; all that we will be doing is upgrading infrastructure and augment[ing] existing infrastructure.”
Sithole said an estimated 10 000 jobs would be created.
Louis van der Merwe, 15 and his friend Vian Grobbelaar, 14, both pupils at George Campbell, arrived at 5:40 for announcement. The pair said they counted themselves lucky to be part of the special announcement.
“When I heard the announcement I got goosebumps, it was a great feeling. It’s a privilege to have been part of the experience. It made me proud to be a South African,” said Van der Merwe.
“I will be 21 when we host the games," Grobbelaar said. "Hopefully I will go to the venues to watch the athletes.”