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South Africa could bid to host 2020 Olympics

THE 2010 World Cup organizing committee chief thinks a successful tournament could lead to the Olympics being hosted in Africa for the first time in 2020.

"The IOC decided to give South America its first Olympics, so the only continent now without an Olympics is the African continent, and therefore I think it's something that the IOC certainly will have to begin to think about," South Africa 2010 organizing committee chief executive officer Danny Jordaan said yesterday.

Speaking after a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Jordaan said he could envision South African cities Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban bidding along with Egypt for the 2020 Games. The IOC's 2011 session will be held in Durban, and Jordaan believes those meetings could serve as a springboard.

The IOC voted Oct. 2 to hold the Olympics in South America for the first time, awarding the 2016 Games to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, over bids from Tokyo, Chicago and Madrid. Brazil will be hosting the Olympics two years after staging the 2014 football World Cup.

Since the end of apartheid and the first elections with universal suffrage in 1994, South Africa hosted the Rugby World Cup in 1995, football's African Cup of Nations in '96 and the Cricket World Cup in 2003. Next year's World Cup is football's first in Africa.

FIFA is projecting record revenue for the 2010 World Cup, with Jordaan saying commercial partners will generate US$3.2 billion.

"The argument was that any World Cup on the African continent will lead to huge financial losses. Therefore, Africa must wait," Jordaan told a reception at South Africa's UN consulate. "This event, because of television, is actually without boundaries and without borders. And so you can return the value of the investment in New York and Miami and London and Paris, and all over the world.

"If we dismiss the (financial loss) argument for the World Cup, we've dismissed it also for the Olympics."

Jordaan hopes the secretary-general attends the tournament.

"He must not only come to the continent when there is war, when he wants to talk about Darfur," he said. "He must come to Africa when Africa celebrates, when Africa excels. When there is good news he must always be there."

While World Cup stadiums are on schedule, infrastructure concerns remain.

The high-speed train linking Johannesburg with Pretoria won't be completed in time, with only the section between Sandton and Oliver Tambo Airport outside Johannesburg ready for the tournament. However, a new airport is scheduled to open in Durban by June and upgrades are being made to Oliver Tambo and Cape Town International Airport.

He said 1,000 additional buses and 200 more planes will be added to the transportation system, and that police stations with holding cells will be established on the last car of each train.

Jordaan admitted there are not hotel rooms in some of the cities to accommodate spectators, mentioning Nelspruit and Polokwane. Because of that, fans will have to travel in and out for some matches.

He said places to stay have been set aside in neighboring countries within driving distance, including Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

He downplayed concerns about crime.

"We have crime in our country, but if you ask, 'Do we have ability to safeguard everyone coming to the event?' I must say to you: without doubt,' Jordaan said. "If I have information as to when you're going to arrive in our country, where you're going to stay, how you're going to move and so on, information that event organizers will have, I can tell you we will safeguard you in our country, It's not a problem."

South Africa expects 450,000 visitors for the tournament, which will be held in nine cities from June 11 to July 11. The United States has qualified for its sixth straight World Cup and US residents have bought the second-most number of tickets thus far after residents of the host nation.

Jordaan hopes FIFA's commercial partners will establish fan parks in New York's Central Park and Los Angeles for next year's tournament, along with fan areas in cities throughout the world. Fan parks began at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and were highly successful, and they expanded for the 2008 European Championship in Austria and Switzerland.

As far as South Africa's national team is concerned, Jordaan said it would be helpful to the tournament if the Bafana Bafana improved. Coach Joel Santana quit Monday, a week after the team's eighth loss in nine games.

"It is easier if the team wins, because that generates a lot of excitement amongst the people, and therefore their feeling toward the event also is then very positive," he said. "If they don't, they become negative toward the team and negative toward the event."


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