Fredericks disappointed SA will not bid for 2020 Olympics

2011-07-09 08:12

African sprint legend Frankie Fredericks was “disappointed” to hear South Africa would not be bidding for the 2020 Olympics.

“I supported them a long time ago when they wanted to bid and I was disappointed to read that they want to go for 2024 instead,” he said on the sidelines of the 123rd International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Durban yesterday.

Instead of bidding for the 2020 Games, the government announced in May it would rather invest the money in basic services.

“The South African government has to decide what to do and it’s not for us to decide what they should do, but I will support any African city that comes forward. As a former athlete, I definitely think it’s time that Africa hosts the Olympics.”

Fredericks, who won silver medals in both the 100m and 200m at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, said he had supported the initial suggestion of the bid.

Estimates suggest that successful bids costs in the region of $50 million (R336 million). Fredericks, who sits on various International Olympic Committee (IOC) committees, said South Africa could get away with investing much less in the bid.

“I’ve heard that it costs $20 million, so it’s what you want to spend at the end of the day,” Fredericks said.

“It depends on our desire, whether or not we want to have the first Olympic Games in Africa.

“We’ve seen what they did with the World Cup and I think if we (the IOC) had to go to vote tomorrow, South Africa would have a very good chance to get it.”

Fredericks said Brazil should be a perfect example for South Africa. The South American country followed up a successful bid to stage the 2014 World Cup by winning the right to host the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“If a country like Brazil can do it, I definitely believe that South Africa can, combining what they have done with the success of the World Cup. The infrastructure is there and, for me, it will be a good continuation, just like Brazil.”

Zambian Patrick Chamunda, another IOC member who sits on the organisation’s finance committee, said there was a real desire to see the Olympic Games spread globally.

South Africa should take its cue from Pyeongchang winning the 2018 Winter Olympics earlier this week.

“The goodwill is there from most IOC members, including those from beyond the continent,” said Chamunda.

However, Chamunda, Zambia’s National Olympic Committee president for 15 years, said that he “understood perfectly” the thinking of the South African government.

“We hope it is just a temporary setback and are hoping that the authorities, in time and space, will rethink their decision.

“What needs to be considered is that if you win the bid then the IOC gives you $1 billion for upliftment of infrastructure, etc. So I’m not sure if that has been taken into account.”

Chamunda said waiting much longer would partly erase all the lobbying done in recent years to bring the World Cup to South Africa.

“If you wait another 20 years, memories will fade. You’ll be on a totally different campaign trail.”

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