Durban dream dashed

 

It's confirmed, the Olympic Games won't be coming to Durban.

Durban’s dream of hosting the Olympic games in 2020 is over. Yeah, it was expected but it’s unfortunate nonetheless. News came through today that Rome, Madrid, Tokyo, Istanbul, Doha (Qatar) and Baku (Azerbaijan) are the six cities that will bid for the hosting of the Games.

This will certainly be met with mixed reaction from Durbanites. Some will argue that ratepayers wouldn’t be able to afford the associated costs and that, already, the built-for-World-Cup-2010 Moses Mabhida Stadium is losing money each year. Others will say that the infrastructure built would have left a lasting legacy for the city, turing it into Africa’s sports capital and bring more events, more money and more tourism. You could probably argue it both ways.

The SA Cabinet clearly thought it too expensive. Estimates are that it will cost about the same to host the Olypics as the World Cup – about R50billion for each event. That would be R100bn for just two sports events just 10 years apart. I think the “too expensive” arguement could be about right. However, given that this would be Africa’s first Olympics you will find that sponsors and the IOC would be willing to give more than they would be to a European company. There is huge goodwill towards South Africa at the moment (although Juju is doing his utmost to erode it) and that would also count in the country’s favour.

The Olympic torch won't be burning in Durban - not in 2020 at least

So while you could argue it both ways, the ultimate perspective needs to be taken the context of the country. In all honestly, given the service delivery challenges and infrastructure backlogs (especially very basic infrastructure like roads, water, electricity, housing, sanitation, public transport, etc), the country cant affort to be spending R50billion on a sports event – and a sports event that, essentially, only truly benefits one city.

So, all in all, this is probably the right decision. Durban would make a great Olympics host; it’s basically perfect for it. But now is just not the right time.

2024, perhaps?

Here’s the article from Associated Press:

6 CITIES LODGE BIDS FOR 2020 OLYMPICS

STEPHEN WILSON

Six cities from Europe, Asia and the Middle East are competing to host the 2020 Olympics.

Submitting bids to the International Olympic Committee by Friday’s deadline were Rome; Madrid; Tokyo; Istanbul; Doha, Qatar; and Baku, Azerbaijan.

There were no surprises, as all six cities had previously announced their candidacies.

All six contenders have made previous bids, and two – Rome and Tokyo-have hosted the Olympics before.

Madrid is bidding for a third consecutive time, while Tokyo, Doha and Baku are making their second successive attempts. It is Istanbul’s fifth overall bid.

Doha is proposing to hold the games in September and October, outside the traditional July-August dates, to avoid the blistering summer temperatures in the Gulf country.

National Olympic committees had until Friday to notify the IOC of the names of any applicant cities.

The IOC will select the host city by secret ballot on Sept. 7, 2013, in Buenos Aires.

The six candidates must first submit detailed application files and letters of guarantee to the IOC by Feb. 15. The IOC executive board will meet in May to decide whether to cut any of the cities and approve a list of finalists.

Final bid dossiers will be submitted in January 2013, followed by visits to the cities by an IOC evaluation commission from February to April.

The IOC panel will issue a report assessing the technical merits  of the bids at least one month before the vote. The cities will also make technical presentations to the IOC ahead of the meeting in Buenos Aires.

Rome, which hosted the 1960 Olympics, was the first of the cities to announce its bid months ago. The Italian capital lost to Athens in the race for the 2004 Olympics and hopes to stage the games on the 60th anniversary of the ’60 Games.

Madrid, which has never held the Olympics, mounted unsuccessful attempts for the 2012 and 2016 Games.

Tokyo, host of the 1964 Games, finished third in the vote for the 2016 Games, which went to Rio de Janeiro.

Istanbul is back again after failed bids for the Olympics of 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012.

Doha and Baku both failed to make the shortlist of finalists in the 2016 bidding.

The IOC executive board last week agreed to the Qatari city’s request for a Sept. 20-Oct. 20 time frame to avoid the summer heat,  when temperatures can exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 F).

Qatar has already won the right to host the first football World  Cup in the Middle East in 2022. The event will be held in June, and  the desert country has proposed air-conditioned stadiums to beat the heat.

Qatar Olympic Committee general secretary Sheik Saoud Bin Abdulrahman called the IOC’s decision to accept the Doha bid “wonderful news for the people of Qatar and the entire Middle East.”

“To have the opportunity to host the first ever Games in the Middle East will have a profound impact not just on sports development throughout the region, but also in encouraging a greater bridge between the Middle East and the wider international community,” he said in a statement Friday.

Still considered a longshot is the bid from Baku, capital of oil-rich Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijan committee said a stadium was already being built for the Olympics on the outskirts of Baku and will be completed by next year.

The United States, South Africa and Dubai also considered bidding for 2020, but decided not to enter the race.

Sapa-AP

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