SA sport overspent at Beijing Olympics

2009-11-05 07:57

THE national department of sport and recreation has finally lifted

the lid on its controversial and failed exhibition at last year’s Olympic Games

in Beijing, admitting that the Ekhaya hospitality centre cost

R16.5 million.

The amount is substantially more than the R11 million initially

reported to have been spent on the centre, which was based at the Westin

Chaoyang Hotel in the Chinese capital.

The centre was to be a trial run for South African presence at the

six month-long 2010 Shanghai World Expo, where the country would promote next

year’s Soccer World Cup.

The admission, which comes more than a year after the event, is

contained in the department’s 2008/09 yearly report, which was presented to

Parliament last week.

In the report, the department claims the centre achieved its

objectives and blames other challenges that affected its overall impact.

It also blames former US president George W Bush’s strict security

arrangements. Bush stayed in the same hotel during the games.

His presence, the department says, made it difficult for non-hotel

guests to attend the exhibition, forcing a change in dates for some events

including the 2010 Word Cup dinner.

The department also places the blame on a “poor flow of information

within the South African embassy in Beijing”. Another excuse is that the

department was unable to fill all the hotel rooms it reserved.

Department spokesperson Lerato Mogorosi failed to respond to the

enquiries City Press put to her office.

 

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