/ 9 July 2011

‘South Africa, you are ready to host the Olympics’

There was a “genuine desire” from South African politicians, including President Jacob Zuma, to bid for the Olympic Games, International Olympic Committee boss Jacques Rogge said on Saturday.

Speaking after the closing of the organisation’s 123rd session in Durban, Rogge said South Africa was ready to follow in the footsteps of developing countries such as Brazil and South Korea in launching successful bids.

“Definitely, I think you have proven in the Fifa World Cup that you are ready for a major event,” he said.

“You are in a way, as a nation, ready to host the Olympic Games, but it’s up to you to decide.

“I respect the decision of the Cabinet and the government to focus on other tasks before that.

“But at the same time, I felt speaking with your politicians that there was a desire to host in the future.

“It might not be 2020, it might be 2024, but I felt a genuine desire speaking to all the politicians, including your president, that they would want to bid in the future and I think the nation is ready for that.”

He said he understood the reservations of government ministers, who stated they would not bid for the 2020 competition and instead invest in service delivery.

The IOC president described the session in the east coast city as “superb”.

He said the selection of Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Games and Pyeongchang for the 2018 Winter Games — a decision taken during the past week — were prime examples of where good bids led.

“It all depends on the quality of the bid,” he said

“We had Rio and now we have Pyeongchang, but I would like to remind you that the first prerequisite and the first condition is quality.

Try, try and try again
“If the quality is not there, we will not elect. We have seen this with Rio and Pyeongchang, this is their third attempt.

“The first bid was not good enough, the second bid was a bit better, but still not good enough, and the third bid was a good one.”

Among key decisions made this week were the confirmation of three new events for the next Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia — the ski slopestyle, snowboard slopestyle and snowboard parallel special slalom.

Three new members were also elected: José Perurena (Spain), Gerardo Werthen (Argentina) and Barbara Kendall (New Zealand).

South African IOC member Sam Ramsamy described the IOC session as a “real success” calling it the “biggest moment in the country’s Olympic history”.

He was hopeful that South Africa’s highest authorities would reconsider their stance on 2020.

“We know what government has said and we have to respect that,” said Ramsamy.

“But most people believe we should bid and as the saying goes, “strike while the iron’s hot”.

“I’ve been talking with the Sports Minister [Fikile Mbalula] and he is going to check with the president whether we can revive that bid.

“But at the moment our hands are tied and we have to wait for the decision of government.” – Sapa