Mbalula wants 2020 Olympics

2011-07-09 18:59

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula wants to revive the 2020 Olympic Games bid.

Mbalula told City Press this week that he would be writing a formal memo to Cabinet requesting a fresh discussion on the matter before the deadline for the 2020 bid expires in September.

“For us to revisit the issue we will first have to submit a Cabinet memorandum before September. We have not yet started the process but we’ll be doing so in the next couple of weeks,’’ he said.

Mbalula said his ministry would be working with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) on the attempt to revive the bid, but has not yet discussed the option of bidding for 2024 with the sporting body.

Earlier this week, Sascoc chief exective Tubby Reddy said in a television interview that bidding for 2024 might be a viable option.

Mbalula was unwilling to disclose more on the process of trying to resuscitate the bid.

Durban City manager Mike Sutcliffe said the city would be “absolutely delighted’’ if the bid went ahead.

“We understand that part of the difficulty at Cabinet would have been with the amount requested for the bid – of around ­­

R350 million. I think we could mobilise significant funds for the bid itself from the private sector, much in the way the bid for the 2010 World Cup was funded,’’ said Sutcliffe.

For the past week, sports administrators on the sidelines of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Durban, have talked up either a renewed bid for the 2020 Games or a fresh bid for the 2024 Olympics.

Earlier this year a bid by the city endorsed by Sascoc, South Africa’s Olympic sports governing body, was shot down by Cabinet on the basis that it was too costly, particularly in light of the billions pumped into infrastructure for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Durban’s city fathers are still keen to bid for either Olympics and believe that the city’s sporting infrastructure, in particular its sports precinct around the Moses Mabhida Stadium, will not require massive upgrading for the games.

Speaker Logie Naidoo told City Press that the success of this week’s IOC session in the city may well change the mindset of key players in government and the sporting community.

“I believe this session and its success may have changed a lot of minds about a Durban bid,’’ Naidoo said.

“The international delegates have also expressed confidence in the city and the ability of South Africa as a whole to host key international events. A lot of people are talking again about the 2020 bid. Every delegate I have spoken to has also been very impressed with Durban and what we have to offer.’’

“As far as the city is concerned, whether it is 2020 or 2024, we are ready. We have a great sporting precinct, with land available to build new facilities, and already have excellent facilities for cycling, swimming, archery, athletics and other codes as well as room to expand where necessary.”

Naidoo also favours conducting an assessment of the success and profitability of previous games, including the Barcelona Games in 1992, and the commercial failure of others, to ensure that any South African bid was a financial success to offset investment in infrastructure.

“We are aware of the concerns about being saddled with long-term debt so soon after the World Cup, but we are already very fortunate in terms of infrastructure. We are ready and it’s now up to Cabinet,’’ he said.

On Friday night, IOC boss Jacques Rogge, addressing a banquet in honour of South African IOC member Sam Ramsamy and his wife Helga, thanked Durban and South Africa for hosting the IOC session and said: “We will be back.’’

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