10 July 2011

High praise for South Africa at IOC session

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

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalule with Jacques Rogge, IOC President Jacques Rogge, IOC President, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula

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 - Jacques Rogge, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge was among many powerful sports leaders who heaped high praise on South Africa last week for its ability to host high quality international events.

South Africa has just hosted a very successful 123rd IOC Session after successfully hosting the football fraternity a year ago. This further entrenches its repuation as a major large events destination.

‘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,’ commented Rogge.

While the South African Government has for the moment ruled out a bid for the 2020 Olympic Games, there was no doubt in Durban, where the IOC 123rd Session was held, 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.

The IOC 123rd Session was attended by 2 000 delegates and was made available for broadcast in more than 150 countries.

Lamine Diack, the long-time Senegalese President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), 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 last week. ‘South Africa is one of the best destinations in the world. There is no doubt that Durban, Cape Town or Johannesburg are all strong enough to compete to host the Summer Olympics. We supported South Africa getting the World Cup™ in 2010, and I would support a South African bid for the Olympics,’ he said.