Big offer on track for SA athletics

2011-09-17 14:35

There is just no stopping South Africa from being a destination of choice for major sporting events.

The latest being the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA), which has made Athletics South Africa (ASA) an offer to host the 2012 Cross Country and the 2016 senior track and field Championships.

South Africa has staged the two events before – the inaugural Cross Country championships in March this year and the senior championships in Durban in 1993.

ASA president James Evans says though the financial spin-offs were not as big as hosting soccer, rugby and cricket, “staging the continental track and field meet would increase the levels of interest in athletics”.

But the first step, he says, will be to seek guarantees from the South African Sports Confederations and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and the government.

Sascoc has already declared its support, its president Gideon Sam told City Press this week.

Evans says he will propose a meeting between ASA, Sascoc and the government sometime next month.

“If South Africa were to host the Commonwealth Games (CWG) and the Olympics, they must stage the track and field event first,” says Evans.

Sam concurred: “We indicated that we wanted to bid for the 2022 CWG and hosting the two African events would be ideal run-ups (to staging the CWG).”

He added: “We have other big events coming up such as the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships (in October) and the Junior Judo World Championships (in November) – both in Cape Town.

“Athletics are very much part of the strategy to pave the way for international events South Africa would bid for in future.”

Meanwhile, Evans points at a few hurdles that should be cleared to realise the goal of hosting a big event such as the senior champs.

“With the Cross Country we are talking about 150 athletes from 17 countries competing in a one-day event.

But with the seniors we are talking about thousands of athletes participating in a five-day event.

“It brings up the question: do we have the capacity? – no, we don’t have at the moment. Our options could be Royal Bafokeng Stadium and Joburg Stadium, which are athletics stadiums. But we should consider training venues and accommodation.”

Evans says Cape Town Stadium and Moses Mabhida are also other options “but only if the two 2010 Fifa World Cup venues are 100% competition ready and the tracks are erected”.

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