SAfrica's Olympic committee says will bid for 2020

Published July 13, 2010

| Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Fresh from its successful hosting of Africa's first World Cup, South Africa said Tuesday it will bid to bring the Olympics to Africa for the first time in 2020.

The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee said it would "formally oversee a bid for the 2020 Games and encouraged potential host cities to "state their intention of being involved in the process."

Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg are considered possible bid cities.

South Africa's Olympic body said the announcement, just two days after the World Cup final in Johannesburg, "comes in the wake of resounding international acclaim for the manner in which South Africa staged the 2010 FIFA World Cup."

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, who met with South Africa president Jacob Zuma in South Africa over the weekend, has said the IOC would welcome a bid from South Africa.

Rogge attended Sunday's World Cup final and praised the country's organization of the world's biggest soccer tournament.

"From the start, when South Africa were named as World Cup hosts, we all knew the country would be able to organize the tournament," Rogge said on Monday. "Now it is up to you as a nation to decide if you want to host this (the Olympics) event," he said.

SASCOC said the successful World Cup and the "endorsement" of a possible Olympic bid by Zuma led to the decision to proceed with the 2020 effort.

"We have decided that the way forward would be to engage government and key stakeholders," SASCOC chief executive Tubby Reddy said, "but our intention is to provide a world-class city capable of hosting Africa's first Olympic Games in 2020."

Reddy invited possible candidate cities in South Africa to contact him directly as to what's required to bid for the Games.

Zuma's spokesman, Zizi Kodwa, said SASCOC's decision had not yet reached the president's office but stressed the World Cup proved South Africa could stage the Olympics.

"In terms of our capacity, there is no event that we cannot host," Kodwa told The Associated Press.

It will be South Africa's second Olympic bid. Cape Town finished third in the race for the 2004 Games, behind winner Athens and Rome.

The IOC's decision on the host for the 2020 Olympics will be made in 2013, but preliminary bids must be submitted next year. So far Rome is the only city to formally announce it will bid for 2020.

Durban, which is South Africa's third-largest city, will have a chance to impress Olympic officials when it hosts the 123rd IOC session in July 2011 — where the host for the 2018 Winter Olympics will be announced.

South Africa spent billions of dollars on stadiums and infrastructure for the World Cup.

Durban was one of the nine World Cup host cities and built the Moses Mabhida Stadium for the tournament. The oceanside facility has a capacity of 72,000, space for an athletics track and an adjoining indoor arena.

The city is served by a new international airport.

Cape Town, which was also a World Cup host city, has the new 70,000-seat Green Point Stadium sitting in the shadow of South Africa's Table Mountain.

Johannesburg is the country's commercial hub and was at the center of the World Cup effort, hosting the opening game and the final at the 94,000-seat Soccer City stadium.

The city, which is home to 7 million, has also given its public transport a massive upgrade, improving roads and building a new high-speed rail link.

SASCOC had said on Monday it would consider bidding for either the 2020 or 2024 Olympics, but wanted to talk to South Africa's government.

SASCOC said in Tuesday's statement the World Cup "has been hailed far and wide as an overwhelming advertisement for the country and the continent."

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