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8 July 2011

Successful IOC Session another South African sports tourism and events boost

South Africa successfully hosts the IOC Session with over 2 000 delegates and available for broadcast in over 150 countries.

Monaco's royal couple at the IOC Session in Durban Monaco's royal couple at the IOC Session in Durban

SETE is a platform to give all players in both the public and private sectors an opportunity to design a strategy that will make South Africa an even more compelling international sports event destination. - Sugen Pillay, SA Tourism Global Events Manager

If South Africa in recent years has established its reputation as a major mega events destination, it considerably enhanced that status with the world’s most powerful sports leaders in Durban this week.

South Africa successfully hosted the world’s football fraternity a year ago and after now also hosting the 123rd Session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the destination’s qualities as a major sports and events host nation has again received high praise.

“The IOC Session is evidence of how far South Africa has come over the years. The new South Africa is very highly regarded as an active participant of the Olympic movement. South Africa hosted a very successful FIFA World Cup and the IOC Session has also been a big success,” IOC President Jacques Rogge said in Durban this week.

While officially the South African Government has for the moment ruled out a bid for the 2020 Olympic Games, there was no doubt in Durban that South Africa’s credentials as sporting hosts are highly regarded and that the Olympic movement would seriously consider an African Olympic bid.

“The IOC welcomes a strong African Olympic bid and it goes without saying that they will put a strong one together, even if this may not necessarily be for the 2020 Games,” Rogge added.

"Hosting the IOC Session has been a massive marketing tool for our country, especially for tourism. The IOC gathering has been a resounding success and people from other countries are impressed that we have been able to put on a great show," said South Africa’s Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula of the Session in Durban, that was attended by 2 000 delegates and available for broadcast in more than 150 countries.

“The Opening Ceremony was wonderful, the best I’ve ever seen at any of the IOC Sessions,” said Lamine Diack, the long-time Senegalese President since 1999 of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Diack was clearly impressed with South Africa’s capacity and facilities and confident the country would comfortably be able to host the World Athletics Championships in future should it successfully bid for the event.

“South Africa has very successfully hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. The World Athletics Championships would need just one stadium and one training pitch. It would be much easier to host than the World Cup,” Diack said.

Germany’s legendary Franz Beckenbauer, who has played in, coached and organised successful FIFA World Cup tournaments, was also in Durban this week and very positive about a country he has come to know extremely well.

“South Africa is one of the best destinations in the world. It’s a very strong and powerful country that has very successfully hosted the FIFA World Cup, one of the world’s major sporting events, and there’s no doubt that Durban, Cape Town or Johannesburg are all strong enough to compete to host the Summer Olympics. We supported the South Africans getting the World Cup in 2010 and I would support a South African bid for the Olympics. It is good to host big events like the World Cup or Olympics. People are still talking about 2006 in Germany...and you get improved infrastructure. If you get a chance I think you should try,” said Beckenbauer.

For popular IOC Member and former 100 and 200 metre world champion and Olympic silver medallist, Namibian Frankie Fredericks, hosting the IOC Session in Durban was a proud personal moment.

“It’s important to bring such dignitaries and high-level sporting leaders to Africa and Durban’s a great city. I was very proud as a young African that Africa could host a major event such as the FIFA World Cup and show that Africa is ready to host major events. As athletes it’s the ultimate to compete in events such as the Olympics at home, in your own neighbourhood,” said Fredericks.

Just when Africa’s Olympic dream will one day be realised is still up for discussion. But as South Africa looks to enhance and build on its status as a sports, events and tourism destination and attract events across all sporting codes, a successful IOC Session has provided another considerable boost.

South African Tourism’s Global Events Manager, Sugen Pillay, was delighted at the success of the IOC session and the strong endorsement messages it elicited from world sports leaders just two weeks ahead of the Sports and Events Tourism Exchange (SETE) in Cape Town from 27 to 29 July, which will bring the sports, events and tourism industry together to start formulating a sports tourism strategy for the country.

“SETE is a platform to give all players in both the public and private sectors an opportunity to design a strategy that will make South Africa an even more compelling international sports event destination. It is our clear ambition to position South Africa as the world’s favourite big global sport destination and the positive endorsement from IOC delegates is very significant,” Says Pillay.

*South African Tourism and THEBE Exhibitions will host the Sports and Events Tourism Exchange at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 27-29 July 2011.

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For further information contact
Jermaine Craig at South African Tourism or Allison MacDonald at Ireland Davenport
Tel: +27 11 895 3000 or 083 2010 121 Tel: +27 11 463 2252 or 082 771 2541
Email: jermaine@southafrica.net allison.macdonald@ireland-davenport.co.za
Website www.southafrica.net

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South African Tourism is the national tourism agency responsible for the marketing of South Africa as a preferred tourist destination. It is headed up by Chief Executive Officer, Ms Thandiwe January-McLean, Chief Operating Officer Mr Timothy Scholtz and Chief Marketing Officer, Ms Roshene Singh.