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South Africa consider 2020 Olympic bid

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David Bond | 17:08 UK time, Thursday, 24 June 2010

South Africa may have become the first World Cup hosts to be eliminated after the first round but that does not appear to have dampened enthusiasm for the tournament here.

In fact, so buoyed is President Jacob Zuma by the way the event is going, he said on Thursday that the success of the World Cup should be used as the springboard for a bid to host the Olympics in 2020.

"We have got the facilities," said Zuma. "Those who take decisions have seen how South Africa is. I'm sure we could do it."

Zuma's comments are a clear sign that Bafana Bafana's exit has not diminished in any way the country's huge pride at staging the tournament.

As one newspaper columnist here put it this morning: "No one has beaten our record as a small nation hosting the biggest World Cup."

So could a South African city stage the Olympics?

table_getty_595.jpgTable Mountain, Cape Town could provide the stunning backdrop for the 2020 Olympics (Getty Images)

With its stunning location at the foot of Table Mountain, Cape Town would be the obvious candidate. The city bid for the 2004 Games but was well beaten by Athens.

Johannesburg's Soccer City would also make a magnificent Olympic stadium but altitude would be a factor.

Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium has already got a running track and the city on the Indian Ocean is already talking about a bid.

For the Olympic movement, taking the Games to Africa for the first time would be an even bigger statement than Fifa's decision to award the World Cup to the continent after a wait of 80 years.

In many ways, the two events are on a similar scale now. However, the Olympic pressure is felt by one city alone whereas a World Cup is spread over a number of host cities.

And while the World Cup involves 64 matches and an intense group phase with three or four matches every day, the Olympic Games involves a far greater logistical challenge, with 26 simultaneous world championships taking place over a much shorter period - just 16 days.

Any potential host city would need a range of world-class facilities, not just one or two football or rugby stadiums. It would also need to accommodate more than 10,000 athletes and the same number of media, with all the strain those figures put on transport and security.

But taking the Olympics to Africa - and realistically South Africa is the only country that could host the Games - would send such a strong message to the continent.

The International Olympic Committee has already shown it is not afraid of making bold decisions, as it demonstrated by taking the summer Games to Beijing in 2008 and to South America for the first time with Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

And IOC President Jacques Rogge said last week that he would love to have a credible African candidate for the next Olympics, namely 2020.

South Africa certainly has the resources and the will to put on the Games - and would do a terrific job if the warmth of the people is anything to go by.

The success of African athletes - particularly in middle and long distance running - makes it even harder to ignore calls to take the Games to this continent.

Should that dream become a reality and England win the right to host the World Cup in 2018, it raises the prospect of just three countries - Britain, Brazil and South Africa - dominating the next decade's showpiece sporting events.

And that would represent not only a significant change in the sporting landscape but a major geopolitical and sporting shift, too.


  • Comment number 1.

    'Should that dream become a reality and England win the right to host the World Cup in 2018, it raises the prospect of just three countries - Britain, Brazil and South Africa - dominating the next decade's showpiece sporting events.'

    If only we could afford it.

  • Comment number 2.

    Sorry, but the IOC can't afford to experiment in 2020. Brazil is an enormous challenge in 2016 so the hosts for 2020 have to be 'a safe pair of hands', go for 2024 SA yes, but 2020 must have as an insurance for the Olympic Organisation a safe first world host.

  • Comment number 3.

    No more international sporting events for South Africa 'til they've melted down every last vuvuzela.

  • Comment number 4.

    hear hear zakibsen!

  • Comment number 5.

    This is the sort of blog you should focus on writing, David. Much, much better than your usual football related (and I'm sorry to be so harsh, but it's true) dross.

  • Comment number 6.

    I agree wholeheartdly with #1, too few countries are strong favourites for hosting the major sporting showpieces.

    But from a purely British point of view, it would be AMAZING to have an Olympics and a World Cup here, absolutely brilliant.

  • Comment number 7.

    Until yhey get rid of those infernal vuvu things they should not be allowed to run any multinational events.

  • Comment number 8.

    Well every country have its downfalls. @Nathan Morrow-Murtagh and Zakibsen its funny how we made noise about the vuvuzelas when i was in the UK before coming to South Africa but its briiliant and brings its own style and identity to the world cup in South Africa. I have followed many sports tournaments and if you noticed the vuvuzelas in South Africa are played in Football and now some rugby matches BUT not athletics.
    It will be naive for us to say burn down the vuvuzelas, will it be fair if we say, lets stop the singning in Upton Park, Anfield and Emirates? NO, some people sing, some poeple blow horns and some dance - i enjoyed it and actually bought some for my kids and friends back in London.
    honestly, the atmosphere at all the stadiums i have been here have been ELECTRIFYING, amazing if i must say.

    On the point of Cape Town or Africa hosting the Olympic, i must say yes they can and we all know its a bigger logistics event than the World Cup but yes i believe they can. At Chris Cornwall - i understand what you are saying but i thought of the same thing when 2010 was awarded to South Africa and i thought Brazil shouldnt be given 2014 but i think it would work out either way for 2020 or 2024. Remember too that Cape Town did bid twice to host the Olympics in the 90s and they lost the bid till the Rugby, African Cup of Nations and now the World Cup.

  • Comment number 9.

    In the true spirit of the Olympics an African country should get to host the games. Every other continent has had it already. I doubt it however, because the IOC is packed with the old boys club that are too set in their ways. SA would never have got the World Cup if it was not for Blatter and look what a tournament SA is putting on.
    If developping nations are given a chance, they will rise to the occasion...but I don't think this IOC is willing to give Africa the opportunity. Rogge does not seem to have any interest in this continent in the way Blatter does, and he counts alot.

  • Comment number 10.

    South Africa are having a bill of 3.5 billion pounds bill for the 2010 World Cup.
    How much would the Olympics cost? Its a huge risk for the IOC and the OIlympics cost double what the World Cup cost!
    Blatter played a silly risk when he put in the rotation system in and look he got rid of it when he got what he wanted.
    South Africa should not even try for the Olympics until they have paid for the World cup or even budget for what would be a costly Olympics.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think SA could host an Olympics, it's just a question of how much money they throw at it. Surely they should wait and see how the 'legacy' effects of this WC pan out first? There are people with no sanitation or electricity in SA, living near the brand new stadiums. Given that football is the most popular sport in Africa most of the population seem happy to have it and it is turning into a great event. But it's hard to justify the expenditure in London... should SA really be spending cash on facilities for IOC VIPS, velodromes, diving pools etc when people are starving and children have no electricity to do their homework at night with?

    Seems hard to justify. Perhaps in 2024....

  • Comment number 12.

    As a South African, please don't give the Olympics to us. I can't bear the thought of 10 more years of sanctimonious drivel and ignorant doomsaying from the western media (BBC included) about how South Africa hosting anything more than a tea party will end in tears.

  • Comment number 13.

    I think they could very easily host a brilliant olympic games. The locals are passionate and would support any sporting event to come to South Africa. However Im worried that all we would hear is how its another victory for South African politics from the absent minded BBC/ITV hosts and not enough about the atheletes and their achievements. But I would back them.

  • Comment number 14.

    How are SA gonna pay for it?

  • Comment number 15.

    i believe RSA, Nigeria, Egypt and perhaps a couple other African countries can host the olympics no problem, the facilites are there already and it's similar in scope to the All Africa Games (key difference being the huge number of athletes and visitors who will come into the host city since the olympics is a global event as opposed to just an African event). I will suggest that if an African country bids to host the olympics and wins the world should be at ease, we will host a spectacular olympic games :)

  • Comment number 16.

    The Olympics costs A LOT of money. People are already talking about white elephant stadia from teh football, and this would just add to the problems.

    Sounds a lovely idea, but it could lead to economic meltdown for South Africa.

    If they can afford it, then marvellous, but i doubt they reasonably could.

  • Comment number 17.

    I am a South African who advised you (British) naysayers that SA would provide an "electrifying" spectacle for the World Cup (Blog: Will the World Cup Change South Africa?)See post #8.
    The bill for the World Cup will be paid by WC visitors returning to SA, and by those who return bringing their friends with them AFTER the WC. The World Cup has shown that SA is an AMAZING place to visit or to live and I expect a huge increase in tourist numbers after the world cup.
    We can do the World Cup and we CAN do the Olympics.
    The problem is that the Olympics is a guaranteed financial disaster. We should avoid the Olympics like a plague, leave the Olympics to the stupid, the wasteful and the corrupt. Let Nigeria host that rubbish.
    The IOC is more corrupt than FIFA, and we dont need rowing ponds, fencing halls, cycle tracks or 60 000 seat Swimming stadia.
    As for the usual comments about "starving children", yes I accept that, but one cannot hold back all development because of starving children.
    No Olympics for Africa EVER!

  • Comment number 18.

    Nothing farthest from the reality. The insecurity in this World Cup has shown the lack of readiness of the organisators for such an important event as the Olympic Games. It is absurd even to raise such a question.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well well well here we have the british throwing stones from glass houses. Can you honestly say that britain or any city in britain can afford to host the world cup leave alone the olympics!
    Britain is still in debt and has not even recovered from the economic recession. Guys your country is in debt you should'nt even be bidding to host anything your'll just dont have the money any event hosted by your'll will be a disaster leave alone what the debt might rise to after you have hosted an event.
    Its just sour grapes from the rest of the world seeing that Africa and in particular South Africa is hosting one of the best ever World Cups.
    So seriously get of you high horses and applaud Africa for once because we all know that britain will not host World cup half a s spectacualar as South Africa 2010.

  • Comment number 20.

    They will say South Africa cannot do it...and South Africa will go on to stage fantastic Olympic Games, even with the very different logistical requirements of the two events.

    After South Africa 2010, see you in London 2012, Brazil 2014, Rio 2016, England 2018 and in Cape Town in 2020.

    The stars...oh how they have aligned...

  • Comment number 21.

    #2 was spot on. After Rio they need a cash cow, sadly probably in the States, then they can have another riskier one, which Cape Town, Doha (or Delhi post Commonwealths) would be.

  • Comment number 22.

    On the issues of venues.

    Believe it or not World Cup venues are not the only venues we have....

    Cape Town already has an indoor velodrome, designed to expand for the Olympics, already has a hockey venue, football venues, mountain bike venues, indoor venues, rowing "ponds", camps bay for beach volleyball (with real beach sand!)

    What we do need is a temporary Olympic stadium, anything over 20,000 seats for athletics post Olympic Games is wishful.

    A new aquatic centre is already planned for Cape Town with the national swimming federations leading the project.

    Learning from London 2012:
    - Newlands for there a better setting?
    - Convention Centre for indoor Excel (existing with planned expansion)
    - Iconic football finals venue...Green Point Stadium...prettier than Wembley!

  • Comment number 23.

    Why is everyone saying Brazil is a poor country and going to struggle to pay for it. Look at the figures!! Brazil is one of the fastest growing economies in the world only really behind China and India. So Brazil will find it easier than any western economy to pay for it.

    SA on the other hand has a small growing economy and has spending billions on stadia which realistically won't be filled to the maximum and has a poor infrastructure. Saying all this money was worth it as the tourists will come back to pay for it is naive, whos going to come in large numbers? Europe is bust and can't even keep its tourist economy going and the US and Asia isn't much better.

    Great idea in the future but until SA economy grows further and infrastructure is improved then there is no way it could afford it. Realistically only Delhi and a few others can afford it right now. When the world economy picks up then it would be a lesser risk and a great opportunity.

  • Comment number 24.

    Why can't they have a host country for the olympics instead of a host city? less financial risks on a single city....Events can take place in Jhb/Cpt/Durban. The IOC needs to take into account the financial risks it puts these "host" cities into.

  • Comment number 25.

    South Africa will win that bid,we're going forward(tackling anything-economy,politics and so on)

  • Comment number 26.

    South Africa will win that bid.We believe in trying and soon we will dominate the economy world wide.

  • Comment number 27.

    I certainly think the Olympics will come to SA in the foreseeable future. I agree that 2024 is the more realistic target just given the IOC rotation scheme, but this World Cup underlines that as a nation, we can do this (and hopefully will be allowed to on a realistic budget).

    Logistically, Durban would be the most practical host city (at sea level, ideal weather in August, great facilities, more easily developed infrastructure), but given the IOC penchant for chosing iconic world cities, it's probably Cape Town or we don't bother bidding. The weather however is a risk, they'd want to have the games as late as possible in August or else it could be a very wet Games.

    One thing the Cape Town could do though is pitch it as a "Cape" Olympics, and take some of the events to Stellenbosch and other picturesque places in-land, create something unique that way... because cramming all the events into Cape Town will almost be a logistical impossibility, it's not a huge city and there's not much you can do to change it so it can handle the Olympic influx.

  • Comment number 28.

    Well, so far so good. The overseas media, especially in the UK & Germany according to friends, have been waging a constant war against the WC taking place in SA & I have no doubt were instrumental in preventing many potential fans from visiting. SA is a great tourist destination and has more than Eros Centres & sausage stands, or Buckingham Palace & a smelly underground to offer. It really is a pity & one can only wonder what the motivation for this was. Get ready, because in a month's time, a campaign will start against having the Olympics in Rio; all those drugs gangs in the favelas, & the risk of getting mugged at night along the Copacabana u know. As for the Olympics, SA should forget it; we can't afford it. It's always been a sure loser as London has yet to find out.

  • Comment number 29.

    Seems like all the corruption and murder is forgotten about all of a sudden. What is South Africa going to more stadiums?
    The country's prestige is one thing, feeding and housing the millions of poor that did and will not benefit from this tournament should be afraid, very afraid. The taxpayers now have to foot the bill and at 4.8 billion dollars I do not think SA is going to be better off for it.

  • Comment number 30.

    @ Martyn abrahams.

    It's amazing that when SA is discussed, the question of the poor & starving children is always raised. Such heartfelt consideration! What about the favelas & street children in Brazil? Someone above suggested that Delhi was a realistic option; of course they have no poor or starving children in India!! Some Arsenal fan above is worrying about how SA will pay for this or that; dude get over it we are no longer connected to Mother England. You should start worrying about how YOU are going to pay your mountain of debt!

  • Comment number 31.

    The hates Africa as a continent and as a people have suffered from the rest of the world still rage on going by some obscene comments from this blog. However, people should know, that the world is rotating, the table may turn against those who think they own the entire world.I hope we can leave behind a united and prosperous world for our children yet unborn. Good things are happening on African continent which western pundits fail to see but always Africa is used as guinea pig in experiment of whatever that is extremely wrong with humans.

  • Comment number 32.

    Is total eradication of poverty a reality? Should the right to host World Cups, Olympics etc be the priviledge of the rich nations only? Should the US have hosted the World Cup seeing what we saw with the flooding of New Orleans? Was it right to give China the right to host the Olympics if we are to believe what we are told they are doing in Tibet etc? Should England get a chance for the Soccer World Cup with its hooligans tag? What is the fairest basis on which a decision to award the hosting of these games really be based on? It really bugs me when most of the people who continue to diss Africa hardly know anything about this continent, its people, its cultures. Despite the feedback from those that were surprised about what they experienced here, there is no let up with some of you guys. The vuvuzela was part and parcel of this world cup. Noone lost their hearing. And by the way was it only African blowing the vuvuzela?

    Thank you Blatter for giving Africa a chance to show case it capabilities to host such events.

  • Comment number 33.

    Cape Town would be a superb choice to host the 2020 Olympic Games. Is there a more attractive venue in the world, many of the facilities are already built and most importantly it would bring the games to Africa for the first time.

    Come on the IOC - award the games to Cape Town.

  • Comment number 34.

    The world thought South Africa would be plunged into a race war. South Africa proved it wrong. The world thought South Africa could not hold a Rugby World Cup (let alone win one), could not hold a Cricket World Cup. South Africa proved it wrong in each case. The world thought SA could not hold a FIFA World Cup. Yet again, South Africa confounded it.
    Come to think of it, few nations can boast such an array of achievements. SA already has much of the capacity and all the will to host the Olympics. And the international political and economic scenario is likely to be very different in 10 years time. What with the economic lever starting to tilt towards China and India, and much of Europe on the brink of bankruptcy, the first world as we know it today might be out of contention anyway.

  • Comment number 35.

    Loved every minute of this world cup... The foreign fans have been awesome! Its estimated that the economy will make 90 odd billion from tourism during the tournament alone (in the middle of winter), of which government takes the regular 14% tax. So, that's a pretty decent return on the infrastructure build up that we actually needed in the first place!

    With regards to the stadiums, the only one that has a question over it, is possibly green point, Cape Town. The others will be used regularly by premier footie teams and other events as they are spread all over the country.

    On the Olympics, maybe 2024 is more realistic. I don’t think it will have the same effect that World Cup has created. I’ve seen die hard rugby fans cheering for whatever team they wish. If the world cup has done one thing, its promoted football to the whole country, rich and poor, and we have been gripped by every moment it.

  • Comment number 36.

    I dunno Chris, there's a bit of a question over more than just the Green Point stadium... Nelspruit, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, those three look like they will be under-used. I obviously hope that isn't the case, but there aren't established football teams in any of those places.

    The Olympics would be a whole different thing, football is so popular in SA already, what has happened with the world cup is that it has swept up everybody in the fervour.

    But the point is there should be no debate any more that we are capable of hosting the Olympics, and there's a very decent chance the IOC will award us a Games if we put in a decent bid. And I think given the way the nation has been bitten by the "Global Event" bug, there will be the support for an Olympic bid to host in 10-15 years time. Football always was going to be a huge success with the existing huge support, Olympics might take a bit more to generate the same level of enthusiasm, but I'd say there's enough to work with.

  • Comment number 37.

    I think the Olympics would do wonders for South Africa. For Africa for that matter.

    Just think of the years of common purpose, unity, pride and promotion before during and after. Economic up- liftment and urban renewal. It shouldn't bankrupt us either.

    Following Britain with its promising lead of a decidedly downsized Olympics and recycling of venues where sport looks to be going to get centre stage at last and not ego it shouldn't cost too much for South Africa to do the same at all.

    Gets my vote.

  • Comment number 38.

    Africa will host the Summer Olympics, it is just a matter of when! Many South African cities already have a lot of the required infrastructure in place for the actual events (may need a bit of expanding). What is lacking is housing and tranportation infrastructure. But just think how many people can be housed in the "Athletes City" once the Olympic circus leaves town, 10 000 new houses/apartments built and of a good high standard, not the usual foundationless boxes which fall down after 1 year!

  • Comment number 39.

    With reference to the Newswatch (East Coast Radio) on 25 June, I would just like to mention that Durban hosted the World Masters Track and Field Championships in 1997 with approx 6000 - 7000 participants + companions and supporters from 70 - 80 countries in attendance. It took place from 17 - 27 July 1997 and many of the participants were past Olympians. To add flavour to South Africa (Durban) hosting another world masters championships, athletic greats from the past - Lynford Christie, Michael Johnson and Merlene Ottey (still participating) could be invited to participate.

    World Masters Athletics is looking for a bid city for the 2015 World Championships, how about it Durban ? Based on the marvellous organisation of the World Cup Soccer, 2015 could be a dress rehearsal for an Olympic bid for the 2020 summer olympics ?
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    We look forward to more and more great international sports events in our country. Mr Sutcliffe we would love to approach your city with a proposal once the soccer world cup is over !

  • Comment number 40.

    Tomorrow's English headlines- Breaking news England lose because of the vuvuzelas! Any excuse to justify the dismal performance. Well done Germany its time for the English to leave our beautiful country. BYE BYE!!!

  • Comment number 41.

    Yes, South Africa can host the 2020 Olympics, why not! Major sporting events such as these do cost quite a pretty penny, but the International exposure, potential investment, spin-off tourism, improved infrastructure and most importantly the national pride such events bring about does wonders for the overall well being and unity of the entire nation. For the poor and the starving like the Hon. Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu said, ' does not merely live on bread alone' and even they will greatly benefit from these events. There will always be poor, but it should not used as an excuse for not allowing to participate in the international community, development in all sectors should be sustainable...

  • Comment number 42.

    DURBAN would be thee most idealist south african city to host the 2020 games as :its more of an african city than cape town or joburg,the city has hosted more international sporting events in africa than any other city,its the only city to have thought of an 'iconic'stadium that wouldn't be a white elephant,its has a 2010 and beyond plan for sports,its has an olympic stadium,great all round weather,the only city in africa to have an oylimpic precinct(kingspark) which will save millions of rands,the city can host 90% of all games in one area ,MR ZUMA as our president and a durbanite would prefer the city and we also have MR Ramsamy a durbanite holding a strong ioc position.....with all thoses facts why would you not award the bid to Durban.cape town had two chances which was turned down,who to say the ioc wouldn't do it again ?.

    TO BE EVEN FAIR THE IOC CHOSE DURBAN TO HOST THE FIRST IOC EVENT ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT IN giving the games to capetown or jozi who be a hugh financil and a sporting diseaster ......

    looks like DURBAN will welcome the world in 2020....CAN'T WAIT AS A DURBANITE !!

  • Comment number 43.

    Africa as a continent can break even in any given international meeting
    there were people who thought world cup 2010 was not going to be a success,yet what a success it is same will go for 2020/2024 for mothe continent..time to move the game around to boost developing economies is now!!!!!!!!!
    Go vuvuvuvu....zezezeze...lalalalalalala

  • Comment number 44.

    @FoxesofNuneaton. Where do u get ur facts from?Stop lying!I work for the south african revenue service, so let me stop u from spreading further lies, it has gone far enough.FACT: South Africa has a estimated yearly revenue of 890 billion rand, the world cup cost 35 billion rand.I repeat RAND and not POUNDS,everything is paid for, what money is owing.Most of the infrastructure was already in place and Soccer City is in Nasrec, all of the places in that area have water and electricity. Get ur facts straight or refrain from commenting if u dont know what ur talking about.If you are going to comment on South Africa s ability or inability to host the olypmics please stop this lies and get your facts straight, it has done enough damage and sadly it is unfounded.And by the way, of that 890 billion rand, water,housing,electricity and educationgets the bulk of that money so dont give me that " that money could have been used for........"

  • Comment number 45.

    South Africans have demonstrated their capacities to organize world events. World Cup Football 2010 has been a massive success. Olympics is a bigger event in many ways but South Africa can certainly manage the Games and perhaps even go a couple of notches higher than what people have been used to so far. Leaders having a say in the decision making need to have the necessary courage to allot the Olympic Games to South Africa and be prepared to celebrate the event in style.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho


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