SASCOC president Gideon Sam said on Thursday that the country’s Olympic governing body respected the decision by the national government not to endorse a bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games in South Africa.
Cabinet earlier issued a statement in Cape Town on Thursday saying it was not the right time for the country, despite hosting Africa’s first Soccer World Cup in 2010, to bid for the Olympics.
“Cabinet considered the request by the South African Sports Federation for the country to bid for the hosting of the 2020 Olympic Games,” the statement said. “Cabinet has decided that it is better for the country to consolidate the gains of the 2010 FIFA World Cup for now and rather focus the country’s attention to the delivery of basic services to all South Africans.” Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said that there was no support for a possible bid within South Africa’s government.
Sam said SASCOC would go back to the drawing board and it would be business as usual. “We have many other sporting projects that we’re working on and will continue to do so. We will obviously assess the situation and then take it further.”
Sam said they were certainly not ruling out any future Olympic Games bids. “Perhaps the situation will be right to bid for the 2024 and 2028 Games. In the meantime we can perhaps look at hosting other important multi-code events, for example the Commonwealth Games and World Games, also very important events in their own right in order to get further experience of hosting major sporting occasions.
“We at SASCOC have always said that government backing was absolutely crucial. We could only move forward on this bid if the government had a big appetite for the bid. So life will go on at Olympic House. I must make it clear that we understand perfectly where government is coming from. If the call is for bigger priorities such as better service delivery and the like then we must support them. We are comfortable with their decision.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week opened the 2020 bidding process with national Olympic committees having until 1 September, 2011 to submit the names of cities. The host city will be selected by the IOC in 2013.
Durban, the city thought most likely to be put forward as a host city, will be hosting the IOC in July where the global Olympic movement will meet for its 123rd Session. During this Session the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics will be named.