Let the games begin

2015-03-08 15:00

Now that Durban has formally lodged its bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, an evaluation committee will arrive in the country next month to validate the bid document.

The Durban bid committee, chaired by Mark Alexander, presented a 600-page bid book to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) in London on Monday.

According to the organisers, the games will cost South Africa about R6?billion, about R14?billion less than Scotland spent on last year’s Glasgow event.

Speaking to City Press shortly after the committee’s arrival from London this week, Alexander said: “The CGF is keeping an open mind to check if we can deliver these games.

“They know we have a history of [hosting] mega-events, but they will come and see for themselves and test the validity of our bid. The operating costs amount to R3.3?billion, spread over seven years. The cost of the athletes’ village and the upgrades is R1.6?billion.”

The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) will also spend R1?billion on the athletes’ preparations.

“Sascoc has to do that regardless of whether we host the games,” said Alexander.

The SA Rugby Union deputy president said the budget for the 2022 games was based on the existing infrastructure in Durban and said the organisers would guard against any overruns.

Alexander said the organisation of the games involved a partnership between the three tiers of government and Sascoc.

“The impact study on our games revealed that R12 ?billion in direct expenditure by international visitors will come directly into the country.”

Alexander said 30% of this would be diverted to youth development.

“We have governance principles because we want to be the ‘tight games’ [in terms of costs].

“There are little upgrades such as the track at Moses Mabhida, which was planned anyway, and sprucing up the venues. All our sporting facilities are in place, bar a shooting range.”

Edmonton in Canada withdrew its bid to host the games citing the economic impact of the drop in the world oil price as a key reason, leaving Durban as the sole candidate city.

The Canadians had estimated it would cost them about R10?billion to host the 11-day games.

Alexander said the upgrade of the 56?000-seater Moses Mabhida Stadium would see it transformed into a global athletics arena with an IAAF-approved track.

The stadium will form the centrepiece of the games as it will also stage the opening and closing ceremonies.

“One thing that brings South Africans together is sport. If we plan this correctly, we can deliver a successful games, which will have a major impact on our people.”

The CGF will announce the host at its general assembly in Auckland, New Zealand, on September 2 based on the evaluation committee’s recommendations.

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