Olympics conference gives Durban a chance to push 2020 bid

2010-12-07 00:00

DURBAN’S hosting the seventh World Conference on Sport, Education and Culture has given it a head start in the bidding campaign to become the South African city of choice to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

The conference got under way on Sunday at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre with the theme “Giving a Voice to Youth”.

The eThekwini Municipality used the opportunity to showcase the city’s potential to host the 2020 Olympics to a high-profile delegation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) led by its president, Jerome Rogge.

The event, which is organised by the IOC in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), brings together representatives from the world of sport, academics, NGOs, governments and intergovernmental organisations.

Said Thabo Mofokeng, a spokesperson for eThekwini Municipality, “We are happy to welcome to our city an estimated 600 delegates, including approximately 150 IOC commission members. The conference is an important one for Durban as it is the first time that key executive committee members of the IOC are coming to … Africa.”

Mofokeng said this will also be seen as a “toe-dipping” exercise in preparation for the 123rd session of the IOC, to be held in Durban in July 2011. He said the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be announced at the session.

He said the session will offer Durban an invaluable opportunity to showcase itself as a world-class sporting and events destination.

The KZN Premier, Dr Zweli Mkhize, speaking at the opening ceremony said, “We all know that the IOC is not any more a simple sports association. It is the most important sports organisation in the world, recognised by all governments and the United Nations as the umbrella organisation for all major sports.”

The Olympic Games has a global audience of billions.

Mkhize said the opportunity to host the conference is a vote of confidence in Durban’s ability to host major international conferences. “We are overwhelmed by the interest that has been shown by the international community to Africa since hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup.”

He said in its 116-year history it is the first time that such a major IOC conference is being held on this soil.

“More importantly, we appreciate the fact that in July next year we will host the 123rd IOC session, which will be held for the first time on the African continent.”

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