SA 'on target' for 2010 World Cup

South Africa is confident in its ability to host the 2010 World Cup, claiming on Wednesday it is better prepared than Germany was at this point before the 2006 tournament.

“We are absolutely on target with World Cup preparations. We are well within the time frame,” Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk told reporters in Tokyo.

“In fact, compared with Germany, we are much more advanced than Germany was with its preparations.

“We want to make absolutely for certain that the World Cup in South Africa is a success so that visitors who come here and television viewers can see what South Africa has to offer to the world,” he said.

He said the country had proven itself by hosting the Rugby World Cup in 1995 and the Cricket World Cup in 2003.

“People were sceptical of a rugby cup in Africa. But it was a success.
They were also sceptical of a cricket cup here, but it was also a success. And I am sure the World Cup will also be a great success.”

Van Schalkwyk was in Tokyo in part for talks with organisers of the 2002 World Cup, which Japan co-hosted with South Korea.

South Africa plans to spend R800-million ($115-million) to build five new stadiums and renovate five old ones for the premier international sporting event, a government statement said.

Van Schalkwyk downplayed concern about the country’s high crime rate and said that tourism would help ease criminality.

“We are well aware of the security situation,” he said.

“But the reason why the crime rate is high is because people are desperate. We are aware of poverty here, so instead of bringing in more police, we need to improve their economic conditions first.”—AFP

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