Casablanca Set for Olympic Bid ‘Soon’

March 21, 2011

Morocco’s Sports Minister Moncef Belkhayat has revealed that the country’s second largest city, Casablanca could be set to launch a bid for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

Casablanca has long been touted as a possible candidate to be the first in Africa to host the Games though cities such as Durban and Johannesburg have seemed more likely of late.

Belkhayat has now confirmed that serious planning has already taken place about a possible bid, stating during the Africa International Sports Convention: “Morocco has committed itself to becoming a great sport nation that stages great sporting events.

“Casablanca has a very good chance of positioning itself as a great sports city and organising the Olympic Games.

“One day Casablanca will be organising the Olympic Games.”

Despite refusing to commit to a bid for the 2020 edition of the Games, Belkhayat left the possibility very much open, adding: “We will bid for the Olympics soon – whether that it is 2020, 2024 or 2028.”

National Olympic Committees (NOCs) have until May 16 to let the International Olympic Committee (IOC) if they are interested in bidding with a final deadline of September 1 to name an applicant city.

Construction of an 80,000 seat stadium is expected to begin shortly, to be completed some time in 2013 on a new US$300m state-of-the-art venue in Casablanca to host the final of the 2015 African Nations Cup, which Morocco was awarded earlier this year.

Belkhayat, a former senior executive with Olympic sponsors Proctor & Gamble before entering politics, wants Morocco to try to host more major events having lost by a mere four votes to South Africa in bidding for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.