SA ready to host Olympics – Fikile Mbalula

2014-02-10 16:18

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South Africa is ready to host the Olympic Games and the country should bid for the 2024 edition, says Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula.

Mbalula, who was speaking today at the arrival of the Queen’s Baton in South Africa as part of the relay before the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, echoed what President Jacob Zuma told reporters at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo last year.

“We don’t want to bid for the Commonwealth Games, we want the Olympics here in South Africa,” Mbalula said after arriving late for the press briefing at OR Tambo international airport.

“If the Commonwealth comes first that would be great, but our biggest fish to catch is 2024 [Olympic Games].

“I can say, without a shadow of doubt, that it would be realisable if we work together because we do it for the future of our young people.

“It is the time now to bid for bigger things, Olympics is about life.”

South Africa was seen as a strong candidate to host the showpiece in 2020 but Cabinet had announced earlier that it would not support the bid as the country had more important priorities.

The bidding process for the 2024 Olympics begins next year and the International Olympic Committee will announce the winner in 2017.

However, the country’s chances to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games has been gaining steam particularly since it has been earmarked for an African country.

In a boost to South Africa’s chances of a successful bid, SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam was elected as one of two Commonwealth Games Federation vice-presidents in 2011.

“We are asking the Africans to put up their hands, but when you survey the possible countries only Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya or South Africa can bid,” Sam said, wearing his Commonwealth hat.

“By March, any of those four have to indicate before we meet for the general assembly in Auckland in 2015.

“My bias, of course, is that our athletes in South Africa have honoured this country by remaining in the top five in the Commonwealth.”

Sam said South Africa may even bid for the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics if there was an appetite to host both events.

But it is doubtful that South Africa would be tasked with organising both events which fall only two years apart.

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