SA to bid for Commonwealth Games

South Africa will bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games and also look to stage the 2017 World Games, announced the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) in Durban on Thursday.

In a bid to overcome the disappointment of government’s withdrawal from the race to stage the 2020 Olympic Games, plans are already under way to prepare bids for the hosting of the two other prestigious events.

“Immediately after the announcement of where the 2018 Commonwealth Games will be, we’ll go in for 2022,” Sascoc president Gideon Sam said.

“It’s never been to Africa so we want to put in a bid.

“We are also very strong on the World Games, which a number of people don’t understand.

“It’s become very big and extremely well contested. I know there are many countries standing in the queue but, fortunately for us, we have support for 2017.

“But it’s not going to be handed on a platter, we’re going to have to do a bit of work and we’ve already started in Cape Town to work around it.”

Progressing well
Sam, who was speaking in Durban 30 days before the start of the 123rd International Olympic Committee (IOC) session, also revealed that talks were progressing strongly to bring a Diamond League event to the country in the run up to next year’s Games in London.

The track and field series was launched last year and sees the world’s leading athletes compete for massive financial incentives.

“It is something that we are pursuing very vigorously,” Sam said.

“We met with Lamine Diack [International Association of Athletics Federations president] on several occasions. The discussions were done in London, they’ve already taken place and he’s bought into it.

“It will be foolish on our side to reject what the boss of athletics is giving to us and saying that ‘here’s an opportunity for you to restore athletics in this country’.

“So it’s progressing very well.”

A big deal
Sam revealed the idea behind the event was to “restore the dignity” of the sport in South Africa.

“Athletics themselves are still grappling over who it wants to have as its leader and so on but we, as the Olympic movement, understand the needs of our athletes and how critical it is for them to be in big competitions,” he said.

“We are keen to give them something that will help restore the pride of athletes.”

Sam also admitted there was slight disappointment over the government’s decision last week not to back the 2020 Olympic bid.

“Remember when we started this whole process, we said that this is government, they can host it and not the national Olympic committee.

“So we were always cautious about running ahead of the whole process.

“That’s what we said, once government shows appetite for the games, we will then be able to.”

Looking ahead to the July 2 to June 9 session where the highlight will be the unveiling of the host for the 2018 Winter Olympics, Sam added: “I cannot emphasise just how big an honour for South Africa it is to be afforded the privilege of hosting this, the 123rd IOC Session in Durban.

“This is not the first time it’s coming to Durban, not the first time it’s coming to South Africa but the first time that it is coming to the African continent since the very first session in Paris, France back in 1894. That’s how big a deal it is.” — Sapa

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