SA Olympic hopes still alive

2011-07-06 14:04

South Africa could yet bid for the 2020 Olympic Games, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said today.

If the country missed the September deadline, Mbalula said it would consider a bid for the 2024 Games.

“There’s a will from the people out there that says ‘go for it’, which is from domestic and abroad and from within the sports fraternity who are saying that it will be good to have a South African and African bid for 2020,” Mbalula said.

“Should that not happen, it will not mean the end of the road. It means that there will be a possibility for 2024 or any other time that we can bid for the Olympics.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the 123rd International Olympic Committee Session, Mbalula said the doors to a future South African Olympics remained open.

This despite a lack of government support for a 2020 bid, with Durban touted as front runner to be the host city.

In May, less than a year after South Africa hosted the Fifa World Cup, SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam said government had informed it that it would rather focus on fighting poverty and improving service delivery.

Mbalula said he backed the government’s decision, but hoped talks would be reopened before the deadline to submit a bid for the 2020 global sporting showpiece.

“We can never say never and we can underline the fact that the reasons provided by government not to host were cogent and well considered,” Mbalula said.

SA International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Sam Ramsamy said this week that it was being encouraged by the world body to come up with an African bid for either 2020 or 2024.

Mbalula suggested that talks were being held with “outsiders” about the issue.

“Government always considers the interest of the people first, and if the people themselves say it’s beneficial to us and the world says ‘come let’s go, let’s get it on’, and so on, government will listen,” he said.

Mbalula also announced plans to travel to Germany later this year for talks with his counterpart Hans-Peter Friedrich on social and sport development.

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