South Africa afforded International Olympic Committee President Dr Jacques Rogge a warm welcome in Durban on Monday following his arrival in South Africa for the hosting of the 123rd IOC Session from 4-9 July. Highlight of the Session, to be attended by numerous sporting celebrities, politicians and royalty, will be the announcing, on Wednesday 6 July, of the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The three cities bidding for the privilege are Munich (Germany), Annecy (France) and PyeongChang (Korea), drawn by lot in that particular order. On hand to welcome Dr Rogge was Dr Sam Ramsamy, IOC Executive Board member as well as a member of South African Olympic governing body SASCOC.
“Dr Rogge’s arrival indicates that the 123rd IOC Session here in Durban has been formally launched,” said Dr Ramsamy. “We are therefore looking forward to welcoming our colleagues and visitors to a week of exciting events. These will include the official opening of the Session by our President, Mr Jacob Zuma, the announcement of the winning city to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games as well as the reception given by Prince Albert of Monaco on 7 July. “Durban, in fact, South Africa, has never seen such a hybrid assembly of international personalities before.”
Other dignitaries present to welcome Dr Rogge were the South African Sports Minister, the Honorable Fikile Mbalula, SASCOC President Gideon Sam and SASCOC CEO Mr Tubby Reddy as well as the KwaZulu-Natal Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize. Said Sam: “On behalf of SASCOC I’d like to extend a big welcome to Dr Rogge and wish him a great stay in Durban. “I’d also like to take this opportunity to welcome each and every delegate here in SA. They must enjoy their stay and find some time in the future to come back to our wonderful country. “To the three candidate cities, they must all know that whatever the outcome of the voting, they have all been worthy contenders and all three would make fantastic hosts. “I’m confident that the Olympic fraternity will take note that we are serious about hosting major events and we continue to learn and improve on what we are doing in this regard.”
Adding to the welcome greetings SASCOC CEO Mr Reddy said: “It is a huge honour for Durban, South Africa and the entire African continent to welcome the head of the global Olympic fraternity as our guest for the 123rd IOC Session. This Session is the highlight of the 2011 Olympic year and I have no doubt that many long-lasting sporting relationships will be forged during this period. “I’m extremely pleased to note that we have had significant buy-in and support from both the Honourable Sports Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula as well as national government throughout the build-up to this Session and they are well aware of the significance of this Session. ”
Apart from wishing Dr Rogge a happy and fruitful visit to Durban may I wish all three bidding cities for the 2018 Winter Olympics the best of luck with their presentations. May the best bid win.” Premier of the KwaZulu-Natal province, Dr Zweli Mkhize thanked the IOC for choosing Durban as the host city. “On behalf of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial government, I would like to express my appreciation to the International Olympic Committee, especially the president Dr Jacques Rogge. We thank you for choosing Durban as the host city. “We are cognizant of the immeasurable global marketing opportunities offered by hosting this session and as such we are ready to host a memorable gathering in the history of the IOC. We have also undertaken various activities to ensure that your stay in this province becomes a pleasant one. We want you enjoy the diversity of our cultures, religion and get to learn different languages that make us a rainbow nation. More importantly, we want to encourage all delegates to explore investment and leisure opportunities that are available in KwaZulu-Natal.”
The opening ceremony of the 123rd IOC Session take place on Tuesday, 5 July while the announcement of the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics will be made on Wednesday evening, 6 July.