South Africans gathered in their numbers at Olympic House on Saturday to remember the late former President Nelson Mandela.
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the Department of Sports and Recreation were partners in an emotional press conference.
Sports icons from far and wide celebrated Tatas life and legacy, highlighting the immense contribution that he made in sport. Madibas presence at a myriad sports events was a symbol of freedom and unity.
The spirit and meaning of the Olympic Games was summarised by a former statement from Madiba: Sport has the power to change the worldit has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.
Various sports icons shared their sentiments on the passing of Tata Mandela.
Said Minister of Sports and Recreation, the Honorable Mr Fikile Mbalula: Mediocrity must never be accepted because we come from the land of Mandela, so athletes should embrace that attitude of a winning spirit.
We celebrate a life well lived, as sports people we understand that sports, arts and culture have a big role they play in the country.
Its through sport that we do not differentiate between white and black but are identified as one nation. This is through the legacy that Mandela achieved.
In honouring the mourning period of Madiba, all our sports competitions that had been scheduled for 15 December will be cancelled to honour and mourn the death of Tata. Teams will also wear the black band and sing the national anthem and dedicatecoming games in honour of Mandela.
National cricket captain Faf du Plessis said: Madiba has changed our lives, taught us the pillars of love, forgiveness and grace. We take the biggest gospel of love. It is a sad time for South African sport, we should keep doing what his legacy stands for and take South African
sport to another level.
Added the President of the Creative Workers Union, Mabutho Sithole: Thank you for the lessons of sharing, lessons of love and for being human.
And Itumeleng Khune, captain of Kaizer Chiefs said, We have lost a father, we couldnt have had all the opportunities we are having now if it wasnt for Tata. Tata touched the lives of everyone throughout the world. He used his power to unite this country through sport and we have been bringing medals in South Africa. We will continue to be good ambassadors of the legacy he left for us.
Chairman of Orlando Pirates Football Club: Dr Irvin Khoza went on to
say, Madiba realised that the catalyst required to build the unity of
this country was the World Cup. Madiba has taught us to be selfless and forgiving. Lets take the values that Madiba left for us and use them for the betterment of our nation.
Minister of Arts and Culture: Mr Paul Mashile added that, The spirit of Nelson Mandela will never die. His legacy will continue living among us. Tata taught us that sport brings unity so we as the Ministry of Arts and Culture will continue partnering with The Department of Sports and Recreation and put all our efforts to support the sector.
SASCOC CEO, Mr Tubby Reddy concluded, As the national Olympic body, we are saddened by the death of a great man who played a fundamental role in unifying people through sport. We will carry this legacy and encourage all athletes to continue nurturing their winning spirit and take South African sport to a higher level. Rest in Peace, Tata Nelson Mandela.
After the press conference the delegates then moved on to pay respect at Madibas house in Houghton, Johannesburg.