Sports News

Durban our focus, Olympics will come later say South Africa

AUCKLAND (Reuters) - The decision to award the 2022 Commonwealth Games to the South African city of Durban would delay any bid from the country to host an Olympics, officials said on Wednesday, effectively ruling themselves out until at least the 2032 summer Games.

Durban became the first African city to be awarded a global multi-sport event on Wednesday when the Commonwealth Games Federation approved their bid for the 2022 Games at their general assembly in Auckland.

The coastal city were the only bidders for the event that is held every four years and feature athletes from over 50 countries and territories, mostly former British colonies.

Edmonton in Canada withdrew their bid in February for financial issues, citing the falling global oil prices as the principle reason.

Despite winning the Commonwealth Games bid and having a history of hosting World Cups for rugby, cricket and soccer in the past 20 years, South African sports officials said there was no plans in the immediate future to bid for an Olympics.

“The South African government has expressed an ambition to host an Olympics and we, in fact, are ready to host it now if the opportunity arises,” Alec Moemi, South Africa’s Director General for Sport and Recreation, told reporters.

“But we are fairly focused now that we should pay attention to the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and... we will not intend to bid in the next seven years for anything.

“So an Olympic bid is not on our cards now.

“When it is, we will speak on it.”

South Africa became the first African country to host the FIFA World Cup in 2010 and the Moses Mabhida Stadium, that was constructed for that tournament, will hold the athletics competition and the opening ceremony at the 2022 Games.

The Durban bid had been seen as a potential springboard for another tilt at the much larger summer Olympics after Cape Town finished third in bidding for the 2004 Games.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles expressed an interest in hosting the 2024 Games, joining Paris, Rome, Budapest and Hamburg with the successful bid to be confirmed in 2017.

The 2022 Games would therefore give South Africa officials at least two years to prepare a bid for the 2032 Olympics, presuming they stick to their decision not to bid until after the Durban event is completed.

“We do have another bid city (Cape Town) and we will open negotiations with them, but we do not believe we should build facilities for Games that we would find very hard to maintain afterwards,” Moemi added.

“That would leave a very negative legacy.”

Editing by Sudipto Ganguly