Following its success in hosting the 2010 soccer’s World Cup, South Africa now has its eyes on the Olympic Games.
President Jacob Zuma said that South Africa would be bidding to host the 2020 Olympics, with both Durban and Cape Town in the running.
The International Olympic Committee is yet to begin the selection process, but it is scheduled to vote on the host city in Buenos Aires, Argentina in the middle of 2013.
Counting in South Africa’s favor is the fact that the IOC has indicated that a developing country may be their choice.
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), who will formally oversee a national bid for the 2020 Olympic Games, have encouraged potential South African host cities to state their interest of being involved in the process.
Following this call, Durban officials notified SASCOC of their intention. However Cape Town officials refused to commit the city to bidding for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The Cape Town mayoral committee said that it was “premature” as the city was “not ready” to undertake an Olympic bid.
Last week, Durban was announced as the only bidding province, but on September 19 the City of Cape Town requested a formal opportunity to consider the possible submission of a bid.
The province’s communications director, Pieter Cronje, said the city had asked SASCOC to give it enough time to submit a bid, but had received no response.
“Hosting the Olympics is a major project which requires guaranteed national funding, a needs assessment for the facilities and venues required, the operational capacity to host and an assessment of legacy benefits,” Cronje said in a statement.
Only after that assessment has been completed will the city decide whether to submit a bid to host the games.
“Previous communication from SASCOC asked an open-ended question about the City of Cape Town’s interest, but gave no process, format or deadline. That’s why the city is now requesting a formal opportunity to consider the possible submission of a bid,” he explained.
In response, SASCOC’s Chief Executive Officer, Tubby Reddy, posted a statement on SASCOC’s website, denying that Cape Town had not been given a deadline.
In outlining the bidding invite procedure that SASCOC followed, Reddy stated: “The notion that SASCOC messed up Cape Town’s Olympic Bid is very far from the truth and in fact is rather an attempt from some to hide their own inefficiency. SASCOC has followed due process in the bidding process and cannot be held accountable for any misunderstanding, especially on the part of the City of Cape Town.”
Cape Town has provided the green light for the development of an International Aquatic Center, as well awarding the tender for the upgrade of the Bellville Velodrome and Bellville Stadium.
Indications that the city may still be in the running.
While the hopeful cities sort out their bids, the ultimate decision will come down to SASCOC and the South African government, who would have to bid to host the event.
The road to bid for Durban has been a long one. In 2008, the IOC selected Durban as a venue for the IOC General Assembly’s Congress, due to take place next year.
Acting chief executive of Durban Tourism Perry Moodley intimated that hosting the event was a tactical move in light of the city’s plans to bid to host a summer Olympics.
He said that getting the Olympic decision-makers from around the world to Durban was important.
One of the most important long-term legacies of the FIFA World Cup was for infrastructure upgrades.
Durban’s new Moses Mabhida Stadium, which was built specifically for the soccer spectacular, can easily be converted into an 85,000-seat athletics venue and is part of the multi-sport Kings Park Sporting precinct.
Government is expected to meet with city officials next month to decide if a formal bid is to be submitted.
Bids from interested cities will only be considered in July 2011, when they will be submitted to the IOC.
On Wednesday, Durban City Manager, Michael Sutcliffe, told Xinhua that Durban’s successful hosting of several World Cup matches cemented its reputation as Africa’s events capital and is confident that Durban will win the bid.
“Over the past five years, development in the city have been organized around our ’2010 and beyond’ strategy. This has entailed ensuring that whatever we do for the World Cup is geared to also be in line with our post-2010 plans,” he said.
He added that it would be “great” to host the Olympics, Commonwealth Games or World Championship Athletics, all of which Africa deserves to host.
He said that support for the World Cup games played in the province had been “overwhelming”.
“Moses Mabhida stadium has space for an athletics track. We have ensured that everything we plan and develop must fit our long-term plans,” he said.