Rogge: South Africa Ready to Host Olympic Games

July 11, 2011

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge believes South Africa is “ready” to host the Olympic Games even though the country’s government recently claimed that the nation would not bid for the 2020 Games.

Rogge, speaking in Durban after the conclusion of last week’s IOC Session, highlighted the country’s capabilities as a potential future host of the Olympics.

He said: “I respect the decision of the government to focus on other tasks, but I felt a genuine desire, speaking to politicians and the president (Jacob Zuma), that they want to bid in the future. South Africa proved during the World Cup that they are ready for a major event. As a nation they are ready to host the Olympic Games.”

Rogge was referring to the South African government’s announcement in May thatit would not support an Olympic bid, opting instead to concentrate on delivering “basic services to all South Africans”. However, there is increasing speculation that the original decision could be reversed.

South African National Olympic Committee (SASCOC) chief executive Tubby Reddy said that he expected Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula to lead a campaign to have the 2020 Games decision reversed.

Reddy said: “Minister Mbalula is still lobbying his colleagues and maybe it will change. It seems that this is the opportune time to at least bid, there are no guarantees that we would win, but everything points in that direction.”

He added: “The IOC president has gone on record as saying that there is no reason why we cannot bid (and) President Zuma said the same thing after the World Cup. Personally I think the government will come back and say ‘no’ simply because they said no in the first place because of different priorities and that has not changed. Perhaps 2024 is more realistic.”

The Italian capital of Rome is so far the only city to confirm its bid for the 2020 Games, although Tokyo in Japan is close to confirming its candidature. Additionally, the Turkish city of Istanbul “will bid” for the Games, according to IOC Executive Board member Richard Carrion. National Olympic Committees have until September 1 to nominate applicant cities for the Games.