SOUTH Africa, with the 2022 Commonwealth Games almost in the bag, seems set to drop the idea of bidding for the 2024 Olympics.
Well-placed SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) officials yesterday said the bid to host an Olympics just two years after the Commonwealth Games was unlikely to happen.
The requirements for an Olympic bid are much stiffer than Commonwealth; the Olympics has 28 sports to the Commonwealth’s 17, and seating capacity requirements are significantly greater.
Durban and the Gauteng government had expressed interest in making a bid.
Even Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who had been keen, was quoted in London this week admitting that a bid for the 2024 Olympics would be unrealistic.
Durban 2022 bid committee chairman Mark Alexander was unable to confirm that SA would not bid for 2024 yesterday after returning from London, where the bid was officially lodged with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) on Monday.
“Sascoc hasn’t discussed that yet,” he said.
Asked what he felt about an Olympic bid, he replied: “I’m focused on the Commonwealth Games bid.”
Alexander dismissed suspicion that the cost of the 2022 Games would be prohibitive, reiterating that the operating budget was R3.3-billion, with R1.6-billion set aside by government for the athletes’ village and another R1-billion for team preparation over seven years.
The Games is expected to grow the GDP by R11-billion.
Alexander hinted that Edmonton in Canada had pulled out of the race after seeing the quality of Durban’s bid.
The big difference between the two, he pointed out, was that Durban already had most of the facilities in place, whereas Edmonton was planning major construction.
“This is a long process. It didn’t start a month ago when the Canadians pulled out,” Alexander said.
“The Canadians were watching what we were doing and we were watching what they were doing.
“And when one looks at the build project the Canadians had to do, they made a conscious decision, and that decision was made in conjunction with several discussions with the CGF.”
Alexander said that was the same problem Cape Town had when bidding for the 2004 Olympics.
“We had too many things on paper and nothing in place – what are you evaluating then? A piece of paper?”
Alexander said the bid committee had met the CGF executive on Tuesday, the day after lodging the bid. “They were ecstatic about our bid.”
Asked if a medal table position had already been targeted for Team SA, he replied: “We want to get close to the top. Second, first.
“We will aim for one. [Sascoc president] Gideon [Sam] will tell you ‘one’. Gideon’s a very ambitious man. If we plan it correctly and we empower our kids then we will be there. The problem is we don’t give enough support to our kids.”
Since readmission, South Africa’s best finish on the medals table has been fifth, achieved in 1998, 2006 and 2010.