22 July 2014
South African delegates made an impassioned plea for Durban to be named host of the 2022 Games at the Commonwealth Games Federation’s general assembly in Glasgow, Scotland on Monday.
The South African coastal city is up against Edmonton, Canada for the honour, which will be decided at a vote to be conducted in Auckland, New Zealand in September 2015.
The South African delegation included Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula, South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam, Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy, and Vuzi Mazibuko, head of sport for the City of Durban.
‘It’s Africa’s turn’
They addressed the gathering and presented a slick video which featured former South African President Nelson Mandela and concluded with the message: “It’s Africa’s turn to host its sons and dauhters for the first time on home soil, in the city where Nelson Mandela chose to cast his first vote. Let Durban be the first African city to host the Commonwealth Games.”
The South African delegation focused on the country’s proven record in hosting major sports events, including the Fifa World Cup, ICC Cricket World Cup and IRB Rugby World Cup.
Sport was also touted as a powerful tool of unification in the country.
National Development Plan
“We’ve gone through the fire to get here, and the [National Development Plan] requires sport to make the contribution to build South Africa into the giant on the continent of Africa,” Sam said in his address.
“We’re bold enough to say that South Africa can host any event. We’ve shown that to the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee. We can say it is Africa’s turn.”
‘Infrastructure and capacity’
Reddy told the general assembly: “We’ve shown that we have the investment, infrastructure and capacity to deliver world-class events. It’s our turn, but … we don’t want you to give it to us because it’s our turn. We will do a quality job,” Reddy promised.
Mbalula said the South African government was fully behind Durban’s bid. “We guarantee the government will play its part in hosting the most successful sporting event in South Africa,” he said.
“The Commonwealth Games to us are important Games in terms of what we seek to achieve collectively over the years. It’s our turn as the African continent.
“If you give [the Games] to Africa, we guarantee you our 102 percent commitment in making it successful. Do it for Africa,” he concluded.
Edmonton took a more low-key approach to its address, with Commonwealth Games Canada president Andrew Pipe telling the delegates that it was not the time to make the bid.
“You have a lot of time between now and next year and we have a lot of time to tell you about our bid,” The Edmonton Sun quoted him as saying.
“The time now is for Glasgow. From my perspective, the most important thing I can do is introduce you to the person who will be leading the Edmonton 2022 Commonwealth Games bid,” he said, before introducing Canadian city’s only speaker, Chairman Reg Milley.
“We’re in Glasgow to listen. We’re here to learn,” Milley said.