Soweto Marathon cancelled, but Gauteng promises to save it in 2014

2013-10-13 10:00

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The Gauteng provincial government has promised to save the Soweto Marathon from extinction despite uncertainty around the event’s future.

This follows an announcement by the Gauteng department of sports and recreation on Thursday that the November 3 event had been cancelled due to a lack of cooperation from Athletics SA (ASA) and a failure to secure the required funding.

But the chief director of sports in Gauteng, Ivor Hoff, said they would try save the race next year.

The latest development turned into a war of words between ASA president James Evans and Gauteng MEC for sport Lebogang Maile.

On Friday, the MEC called Evans “a liar” on Talk Radio 702 when the latter said he had tried in vain to contact Maile’s office via Hoff.

Evans said: “We didn’t want to get involved because the Soweto Marathon is not a national event. We (posted) a R600 000 loss last year and ASA had agreed to hand the marathon over to Central Gauteng Athletics (CGA) to organise. Maile must take responsibility for his staff. I think he owes me an apology.”

But Hoff said ASA was making the department the scapegoat. “We didn’t want to get involved in ASA’s battles with its affiliates,” he said.

“We asked Evans to give us two weeks to try and raise the sponsorship. He only gave us one lead and those sponsors turned us down. We played a supportive role and had R800 000 that was budgeted for this event. We’ll try and help the race again next year.”

In another twist, SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said they would consider this year’s race as being on until ASA informs them otherwise. “ASA has yet to brief us on the latest developments. We’ll wait for a few days and if they (ASA) don’t come, we’ll go to them and engage,” he said.

The SABC planned to broadcast the event live as per its contract with ASA. “It is premature to say ASA is in breach of contract because the marathon is just a small portion of our agreement,” said Kganyago.

According to him, the SABC had nothing to do with the Gauteng provincial department or CGA.

ASA had handed over the event to CGA after accepting a proposal in October last year.

This was while CGA had been negotiating with the Soweto clubs.

CGA president James Moloi confirmed the provincial body had signed a memorandum of understanding with the clubs.

The clubs were in the process of forming a Soweto Marathon trust.

Last month, the trust announced that the marathon had been cancelled. It turned out that the trust was not registered and had no powers to organise or cancel the race.

CGA would not comment, saying the Gauteng government was speaking on its behalf.

» Meanwhile, the SA Race Walking Championships in Cape Town today will mark the last item on the domestic track-and-field calendar.

The 10km Spar Women’s Challenge took place this morning with the Joburg leg being the last of the five races that comprise the Spar Grand Prix Series.

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