After World Cup, South Africa ponders Olympic bid

Durban: As South Africa comes down from its
World Cup high, the country is already looking for its next
sports fix, raising the prospect of an Olympics bid.

South Africa poured USD 5 billion into preparations for
the first World Cup in Africa and largely overcame fears about
crime and poor transportation, hosting a tournament that has
been widely applauded as free of major glitches.

Now, as many South Africans voice sadness at the end of
the party, the country is looking at ways to keep up its new
international profile and maximise its investment, including
by launching a bid for the summer Olympics.

President Jacob Zuma said the World Cup had proved South
Africa has the resources and infrastructure to host the games,
which have never been held in Africa.

"I don`t see why we can`t bid to host the Olympics in the
future. It`s important for Africa," he said in an interview
with football governing body FIFA.

Olympic chief Jacques Rogge said he would be glad if a
South African city made a bid to host the Olympic Games.

"I think it`s absolutely normal that they think of the
future; what next after the FIFA World Cup?" the president of
the International Olympic Committee said. "So we`re glad that
they`re thinking about the Olympic Games."

Cape Town sought in 1997 to become the first African host
of the Olympic Games, but failed to win the 2004 edition and
the country turned its focus to the World Cup.

The race to stage the 2020 Olympic Games opens next year,
with an IOC decision in 2013.

Indian Ocean port city Durban has already dropped hints
of an Olympic bid after getting glowing reviews during the
World Cup for its seaside fan park, warm beaches and soaring
new 450-million-dollar stadium.

"When we started preparing for the World Cup, we
developed a strategy called `2010 and Beyond`. We said
whatever we do in the city must be looking at beyond the World
Cup," the city`s general manager, Michael Sutcliffe, told reporters.

"When we built the new stadium, (we said) it must
accommodate the Olympics, must be able to accommodate the
Commonwealth Games, accommodate international athletics, so we
built the stadium under the same requirements that you would
need for FIFA World Cup and the Olympics."

The city will get to show off its facilities in July
2011, when the International Olympic Committee will meet in
Durban to choose the 2018 Winter Olympic host.

Gideon Sam, the president of the South African Sports
Confederation and Olympic Committee, an independent
organisation that handles the country`s bids for major
sporting events, said Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria
would also be contenders for the summer Games.

Sam said there was a lot of work to do before launching
an Olympic bid.

"At this point in time, there are no cities that have the
requisite infrastructure that the Olympic movement would
need," he told reporters.

But he said the World Cup had given South Africa the
confidence to go for the summer Games.

"By all reports, it seems everybody`s satisfied with the
way that South Africans have pulled this one off (the World
Cup). I think it has given them confidence to go another step

Bureau Report


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