Durban was thrust into the international spotlight following an impressive and professional presentation to the Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly in Glasgow on Monday.
The South African Minister of Sport, Mr Fikile Mbalula, along with the SASCOC president, Mr Gideon Sam, the SASCOC chief executive officer, Mr Tubby Reddy, and head of sport for the City of Durban, Mr Vuzi Mazibuko, produced a slick presentation ahead of the other candidate for the 2022 Games, the Canadian city of Edmonton.
South Africa’s ability and proven track record in hosting major events – amongst them the football, rugby and cricket World Cups – was a strong theme of the presentation, as was the fact that sport is a powerful tool in uniting the country and that Africa is yet to stage a Commonwealth Games.
‘We’ve gone through the fire to get here and the 2030 plan requires sport to make the contribution to build South Africa into the giant on the continent of Africa,’ said Mr Sam in his address. ‘We’re bold enough to say that South Africa can host any event. We’ve shown that to the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee. We can say it is Africa’s turn.’
In a vibrant video shown to the General Assembly, former president Mr Nelson Mandela was shown casting his first democratic vote in the 1994 elections in the city of Durban. ‘We’ve shown that we have the investment, infrastructure and capacity to deliver world-class events,’ said Mr Reddy. The City of Durban has invested billions of rands (some R3.4bn) in sport.
‘It’s our turn, but more than the fact it’s our turn is that we’ll do a quality job. But we don’t want you to give it [the 2022 Commonwealth Games] to us because it’s our turn. We will do a quality job,’ he pledged.
Mr Mbalula pledged his support to Durban’s bid. ‘We guarantee the government will play its part in hosting the most successful sporting events in South Africa. The Commonwealth Games to us are important Games in terms of what we seek to achieve collectively over the years. It’s our turn as the African continent.
‘If you give [the Games] to Africa we guarantee you our 102 percent commitment in making it successful. Do it for Africa,’ the sports minister concluded.
The vote on the 2022 Commonwealth Games bid city will be conducted in Auckland in September 2015.
Pictures: Wessel Oosthuizen. For free pictures of all Team SA’s activities at these Commonwealth Games go to www.sascocimages.co.za.