/ 2 August 2011

SA files preliminary papers for 2020 Olympics

The United States and South Africa are among at least five countries that have filed preliminary paperwork required by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ahead of any potential bids for the 2020 Olympics.

The US and South African Olympic committees said on Monday they submitted forms confirming compliance with rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency and Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The documents were filed before Saturday, the deadline set by the IOC.

Italy, Japan and Spain said they also sent in their forms. Turkey and Qatar would not confirm they filed the papers but are believed to have done so.

The compliance forms are a new IOC requirement ahead of the formal bid process.

National Olympic Committees have until September 1 to submit the names of any 2020 applicant cities to the IOC.

Final planning
The IOC said it would not disclose which countries filed the compliance forms and would wait until September 1 to confirm any bids.

Rome, Tokyo and Madrid have all formally declared their 2020 bids, while Istanbul is expected to announce its candidacy soon. Doha, Qatar, is also a potential contender if the IOC approves a change in dates because of the searing summer temperatures in the Gulf city.

The possibility of a US or South Africa bid remains uncertain.

“We submitted compliance papers as a matter of protocol,” United States Olympic Committee (Usoc) spokesperson Patrick Sandusky said in an email. “We did not submit a city name along with them. We just signed them as the NOC.”

The Usoc reiterated that it would not consider a bid unless and until it finalises a new revenue-sharing deal with the IOC.

“At this point our focus is on completing our financial deal with the IOC and we are not currently considering a 2020 bid,” Sandusky said.

Changing minds
The two sides reported significant progress in their latest revenue talks in New York on July 22 and said they hope to sign a final deal soon.

The dispute centres on the Usoc’s long-standing 20% cut of global sponsorship revenues and 12.75 share of US broadcast rights deals. Many IOC and international sports officials consider the US share excessive. Any new formula would take effect after 2020.

‘Wait and see’
The US hasn’t hosted a Summer Olympics since the 1996 Atlanta Games. Among US cities mentioned as potential bidders for 2020 include New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Minneapolis and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

South Africa announced in May that it would not bid for the 2020 Olympics, saying it had more pressing national priorities. Since then, however, Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula has sought to revive a bid. He is scheduled to petition Cabinet in the next week and a decision is expected around August 10.

“As it stands, we don’t have a bid, unless Mr Mbalula manages to change the Cabinet’s decision,” chief executive of the South African Olympic committee Tubby Reddy said on Monday. “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Durban is considered the most likely South African bid city, although Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth have not been ruled out.

Healthy athletes first
Last weekend also marked the deadline for national committees to propose any change from the traditional Summer Olympics dates between July 15 and August 31.

That would affect Doha, where summer temperatures regularly hit 42 degrees Celsius. Another Gulf city — Dubai, United Arab Emirates — announced last Friday that it would not bid for 2020 and will instead focus on a possible 2024 candidacy.

The head of media for the Qatar Olympic Committee was coy when asked on Monday whether the Gulf state had decided to seek the 2020 games. Hassan Abdullah al-Mohammadi said via email: “I will inform you if there is any update.”

Doha bid for the 2016 Olympics but failed to make the shortlist of finalists, mainly because of concerns over the heat and change of dates. Last year, Fifa awarded Qatar the 2022 World Cup, due to be held in the summer.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said last week that any proposed Doha dates would be reviewed by the executive board in Daegu, South Korea, in late August before the world athletics championships.

“It’s a decision that will be based first of all on the health of the athletes,” he said.

Rogge said the Olympics are different from the World Cup, including Qatar’s plans for air conditioned stadiums in 2022.

“We have the marathon. We have the triathlon. We have the road race, the walk event in track and field,” he said. “You cannot just have that in July, August. It’s impossible.” — Sapa-AP