No Olympic bid for 2020, but maybe 2024, says SA

South Africa will not reconsider a bid for the 2020 Olympics, ending a long-running saga over whether the country will try to host the next available summer games.

Officials from South Africa’s Ministry of Sports and Recreation and the national Olympic committee said on Wednesday that there would be no bid for the 2020 Games after the sports minister had said he wanted to revive a possible candidature.

The country—which successfully hosted last year’s football World Cup in 2010—will go for the 2024 Olympics instead, the ministry and Olympic committee said.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games was also “certainly” on the agenda, said Sam Ramsamy of the South African Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation (Sascoc).

No African country has ever hosted the Olympics or Commonwealth Games.

Widespread support
South Africa’s Cabinet made the surprising announcement in May that it was not the right time for an Olympic bid. It wanted to focus on social priorities in a country where many people are still affected by poverty. The country was considered a strong 2020 contender following the widely praised World Cup.

South Africa’s chances were also boosted after it staged the 123rd International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Durban in July.
The city was favoured to be South Africa’s candidate.

Department of Sport and Recreation spokesperson Paena Galane said the country had been lobbied by many IOC members at the Durban session to reconsider 2020.

But Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula decided against asking the government to rethink its original decision.

“We are not going to resubmit the request to bid to Cabinet,” Galane said. “There will be no bid from South Africa for the 2020 Olympics. After careful consideration, the minister [Mbalula] has decided to respect the Cabinet decision.”

Galane added “the ambition is to consider 2024 [Olympics]” as well as the Commonwealth Games.

No government, no bid
Ramsamy was sympathetic to the 2020 decision.

“We are disappointed but we understand the complexities of the issues,” Ramsamy said. “We will certainly go for 2024. We will engage government and even though there is nothing official yet [for 2024], the indication is that the government will be favourable to a bid.

“We always made it very clear that without the government we would not bid.”

Sascoc president Gideon Sam said in an interview in April that front-runner Durban—which hosted World Cup matches—would still require at least $4.5-billion to build new venues for the Olympics.

Rome, Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul have all formally announced they will bid to host the 2020 summer games. The United States Olympic Committee filed preliminary paperwork required by the IOC ahead of any potential bid. Doha, Qatar, is also a possible contender.

National Olympic associations have until September 1 to announce candidate cities for 2020.—Sapa-AP

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