IOC president arrives in SA

2011-07-04 12:45

Durban - International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge arrived in Durban on Monday as the city prepared to host the 123rd session of the world body.

"The IOC is delighted to come for a second time here to this very beautiful city," Rogge said upon arrival.

The IOC was in Durban at the turn of the year to make final preparations for this week's event.

Rogge was welcomed at the King Shaka International Airport by South Africa's Sports minister, Fikile Mbalula, provincial Premier Zweli Mkhize and new eThekwini municipality mayor James Nxumalo.

He was set to meet this week with members of his organisation on key issues within the IOC, with the highlight of the session being the announcement of the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Three cities - Annecy in France, Germany's Munich and Pyeongchang in South Korea - were on the shortlist and had all been vigorously wrapping up campaigning ahead of the announcement on Wednesday.

"We're going to have a very important meeting, but of course first of all we have to announce the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games," Rogge said.

"Also, other matters on the agenda are very important such as the preparations for the upcoming (London 2012) Games.

"We'll also amend our constitution following the congress resolution in Copenhagen two years ago."

Also present on Monday morning were South Africa's IOC representative, Sam Ramsamy, and SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) chiefs.

Rogge hailed the contribution of Ramsamy in bringing the IOC session to the African continent for the first time after South Africa beat competition from Hong Kong in 2008.

"I would like to thank very much Sam Ramsamy," Rogge said.

"If we are here today it is because he had the lobbying power to persuade all the members of the IOC to vote for them against very strong competition.

"So well done Sam. Congratulations."

South Africa's President, Jacob Zuma, was set to officially open the conference on Tuesday.

"We are proud as South Africa to host in our country the announcement of the host city of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games," Mbalula said.

"It is not an easy task, we understand that, but we believe that the best city will be announced on July 6. It will be a historic moment.

"To president Rogge, we would like to welcome you to the country of Nelson Mandela.

"We are grateful to the fact that you decided to honour Africa with such a massive responsibility to host your 123rd session."

KwaZulu-Natal's Premier, Mkhize, also extended his hand to the IOC.

"We had a wonderful time here with the World Cup last year and for us this is an extension of the celebration of our democracy," Mkhize said.

"I think it is good that in a new dispensation we are able to host the IOC here."

He again called for Durban to be given the chance to stage the summer Olympic Games in the future.

"We also hope that at some point it would be possible to actually host the Olympic Games in this country and we always say that Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, we will always be ready to step in as a venue when such a hosting is possible," Mkhize said.

"We would like to wish the IOC session well and are grateful that you brought the event here."