CAPE TOWN, Dec 21– Four years after hosting the FIFA World Cup, South Africa is readying a bid for the 2024 Olympic Games with the country’s Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee member Sam Ramsamy this week saying, “I think Africa is ready to host an Olympics.”
Certainly, the continent’s chances of hosting the quadrennial showpiece of international athletics has been given a boost after the International Olympic Committee this month announced new reforms. These include making bidding easier and cheaper and allowing possible joint bids which aim to take the Games to “new regions”.
Olympic chief Thomas Bach was quoted in a media interview as saying it was up to Africa to make a “feasible” case.
“I can only say that I think a feasible bid from Africa would enjoy many sympathies from among the IOC members but the first step has to be done by Africa,” the IOC president said.
The IOC has said that the host for the 2024 Games will be decided at a meeting in the Peru capital Lima in 2017.
South Africa’s port city of Durban, which is already bidding for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, is viewed as the hot favourite to host the Olympics. Other cities in the running are Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, Paris, Rome and Doha Baku.
Cities must make applications by Sept 15 next year and then have until Jan 8, 2016 to place guarantees.
Although an African city has never hosted the modern Olympic Games, South Africa previously bid for it in 1997 when Cape Town lost out to Athens.
Nevertheless, South Africa confounded critics around the globe by successfully hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup with the governing body’s President Sepp Blatter famously giving it “nine out for 10” and describing it as “magnificent”.
Leading football administrator Danny Jordaan who campaigned tirelessly to bring that event to Africa, once compared the struggle to convince the world of South Africa’s credibility as host nation with the struggle against Apartheid.
The jury is still out on the benefits that South Africa achieved by hosting this mega sporting event, but FIFA’s pledge to ensure that South Africans would be long-term recipients of the financial rewards of the tournament has become a reality.
So far, US$8 million has been disbursed for a variety of projects from the US$65 million that has been invested in the 2010 Legacy Trust following the event with many new projects in the pipeline.
South Africa has always been a country that has punched well above its weight in the international arena and there is a growing school of thought that, like the World Cup, the Olympic Games can never be regarded as a truly global event until it is hosted in Africa.
It’s a sentiment shared by Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone who this week revealed that he was working to return South Africa to the schedule.
There has not been a Grand Prix race in Africa since 1993 when it was held in Johannesburg. Besides South Africa, the only other African nation to host the series was Morocco in 1958.