23 February 2009
The “point of no return” – in aeronautical terms, the “radius of action formula” – refers to the moment beyond which a course of action must continue because turning back is physically impossible, prohibitively expensive or simply too dangerous.
So it is with South Africa’s charge towards hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup. February is fast becoming one of the most memorable months since South Africa secured the rights to host the event all those years ago.
The weekend before last, a grand lighting ceremony was held at Durban’s Moses Mabhida stadium to celebrate the completion of the extraordinary 105-metre high arch that towers over the 2010 semi-final venue.
Over the past week, stadium project managers at other sites around the country have begun signing off some of the venues for June’s Confederations Cup – a key curtain-raiser for the world’s biggest single-code sporting event.
And this week, Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburi will demonstrate the state of readiness of the ICT infrastructure at the 2010 stadiums.
Friday’s launch of the ticketing process for the World Cup marks another milestone. 2010 Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan says this symbolises that the World Cup in Africa is now a reality, “and only God can take it away from us”.
Fifa’s 2010 consultant, Horst Schmidt, is confident that the launch of the ticketing process marks the “turning point” for South Africa.
He said there was a great deal of concern and trepidation in Germany up to this point back in 2005. “But once the ticket sales were launched, it was as if an explosion of interest and enthusiasm took root – and we never looked back.”
The latest market research suggests that three out of every four people believe that South Africa will be ready for the tournament, while 88% of respondents are now proud that the country is hosting the tournament.
Almost everyone, it seems, is beginning to recognise the enormity of this event and, perhaps more importantly, to acknowledge that it is crucial that all the role-players as well as every South African – and African – unites for this common cause.
Urquhart is a former Fifa World Cup media officer and the current editor of Project 2010