Durbs going for gold
DURBAN Mayor Obed Mlaba yesterday officially announced that the city will bid for the 2020 Olympic Games.

Durban has already planned where it will build the aquatic and equestrian centres, and the indoor sports area, as well as where it will construct the Olympic village.

This places it ahead of other cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg, which might also decide to bid for the games.

On Tuesday night, city manager Mike Sutcliffe contacted South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) chief executive Tubby Reddy to announce the city’s intentions.

He said the money for the project — which will certainly amount to billions of rands — will not come from the city’s coffers alone.

“It’s very early to say how much it would cost for Durban to host the Olympic Games but I can guarantee that Durban will give South Africa the most cost-effective Olympic Games,” he said.

“From an economy point of view, we are growing faster than Cape Town and Johannesburg … Our city is a very bright spot on a wonderfully bright South African map. For me, it’s got an incredible spark about it. It’s a great place to have in terms of climate and weather for an Olympics.”

The city has been planning an Olympic bid since 2004. Officials strategically moved to grab the attention of the International Olympic Committee by successfully bidding to host the 123rd IOC session next year.

Durban has also identified where the different sports will be played for the mega event that includes athletics, swimming, sailing, canoeing, equestrian disciplines, cycling and tennis.

“Our stadium is already built. Then looking at a swimming area, we will add to that of course. We will need an equestrian facility, all those stable facilities and places like that need a revamping anyway,” said Sutcliffe.

“We have started revamping the metro police facility. We need to look at indoor areas. We built the arena at the ICC that can take a lot of those smaller sports that might only need 15000 seats. So we have already started putting in place facilities which can actually cope with any of the infrastructure needs four years ago.”

Sutcliffe said that should Durban win the bid, the city would build the equestrian centre at The Stables, which is now a night flea market within walking distance of the Moses Mabhida stadium.

The aquatic centre, a cycling arena and yachting marina would have to be built from scratch.

“Our original plan was for the Olympic village to be at the old drive-in spot because it is near the stadium,” he said.

The “old drive-in” is a large, vacant lot near the beachfront.

However, Sutcliffe and his team will have to wait until July 2011 for Sascoc to announce its choice of host city.

“The way the process works is that firstly, because of the scale of the Olympic bid, the government must agree that the country is going to bid for the event. Sascoc might then go through a bidding process or it might decide that the argument is so compelling for one city, that it might dispense with the bidding process,” he said.

Efficient Group economist Marina Willemse said it was too early to estimate how much the country would spend on an Olympic Games, but it was likely to cost more money than it would generate.

Willemse warned that the perception that the cost would be low because infrastructure was already in place, was false.

Source: The Times

Article from: NIVASHNI NAIR