Africa Deserves an Olympics says Sebastian Coe
February 8, 2012
Sebastian Coe, clinic chairman for the London Organising Commitee of the Olympic games (LOCOG) wants to help bring the Olympics to Africa for the first time.
Coe, clinic the middle-distance great who heads the organizing committee for the London Games, said Africa is a powerhouse in running events and deserves to host a world championships in athletics, first, and eventually the Olympics.
“We want to build a global capacity in sports, and of course the Olympic Games need to come to Africa at some point,” Coe told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday. “It’s absolutely essential at some point. It’s a continent that’s contributed tremendously to athletics.”
Coe said it would be inappropriate to suggest a timeline in which an African country might host the Olympics, but said global sports bodies need to move away from traditional venues. He said international federations likely will have to be more “hands-on” in helping a country that hasn’t hosted a major event before.
“Like many around the world, it would also be a dream for me to see the games staged on this continent,” Coe said during his visit to Tanzania, where he met students as part a global sports development program linked with the London Games.
South Africa considered launching an Olympic bid following the success of the 2010 World Cup but decided not to try for the 2020 Summer Games. It is expected to bid for 2024. Cape Town bid unsuccessfully for the 2004 Olympics.
Coe said FIFA had to approach the soccer tournament in South Africa—the first World Cup on the continent—in a slightly different way, but “they were still magnificent championships.”
He thanked former South African President Nelson Mandela for supporting London’s successful bid and said Mandela has an open invitation to visit the London Games if is able to travel.
Coe said he expects African runners to dominate running events from the 800 meters up to the marathon in London, though he hopes Mo Farah—a Somali-born Briton and world champion in the 5,000—finishes high.
“It is quite likely that African athletes will dominate at all those distances,” Coe said, adding: “If you look at the (African) contribution made, it’s extraordinary.”