South African Airways (SAA) on Tuesday announced its support and sponsorship of Team South Africa who will partake in the upcoming London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games.
The announcement, which comes close to 100 days before the start of the Games, was made at a signing ceremony jointly hosted by the SAA and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) at a South African Airways Technical hangar at the OR Tambo International Airport.
Speaking at the event, theChairperson of the SAA Board of Directors, Cheryl Carolus, said:SAA, as a national carrier, has a long standing history of supporting various national activities. This agreement is another significant contribution to our national efforts and our companys mission of bringing the world to Africa and taking Africa to the world. As the national carrier, we are thus honoured to support Team South Africa by flying them to London backing them all the way in true South African style,” Carolus said.
The sponsorship comes in the form of the issuance of air tickets which allows participating athletes and officials to fly the national carrier for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.The occasion was attended by a host of dignitaries including the Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba as well as the Minister of Sports and Recreation Fikile Mbalula.
Addressing guests at the event, Minister Gigaba alluded to the significant role that state owned companies such as SAA can play in the developmental endeavours of the country. This partnershipattests to SAA’s commitment and unquestionable support to the South African brand and the country’s broader objectives. I amconfident that this collaboration will spur on our athletes and encourage them to bring home the gold,” Gigaba said.
Speaking on behalf of the Confederation, SASCOC President Gideon Sam thanked SAA for coming aboard for this exciting Olympics and Paralympics journey.
“I have to say that patience is indeed a virtue. We have been ‘courting’ SAA for some time now although we were obviously mindful that the current economic situation worldwide is impacting on all businesses.
“A chance meeting with the SAA Chairperson created that gap for us to raise the matter again. She was adamant that it would be over her dead body that the pride of South Africa must be transported to and from the Games on a foreign carrier. The rest is history and here we are today to say thank-you to a most welcome new partner.
“All South Africans will no doubt join us in thanking SAA for being so kind as to partner the sports movement in general and our athletes in particular.”
SASCOC CEO Tubby Reddy also expressed his heartfelt gratitude to SAA. “It makes perfect sense for the cream of our country’s athletes to be flown by our world renowned national carrier and we are extremely grateful for SAA’s involvement in this regard particularly in these tight financial times. And hopefully there will be additional extra baggage on the return journey in the form of some medals won by Team SA.”
“The injection of cash and kind support in anyway necessary to help Team SA to perform well in the 2012 London spectacle, is welcomed. For Team SA, to make the country proud we need big business, state owned enterprises and all interested parties to invest their time, energies and trust in the team to bring us those medals. We are hopeful that by the time the departure day comes, we would have had many companies knocking at the Team SA door to inject more resources,” Minister Mbalula said.
Minister Mbalula further stated that all athletes must understand that they are our ambassadors and must focus their energies on ensuring that they sharpen their tools to represent the hopes of millions of South Africans.