SA's Olympic hopes get Blatter's backing

Friday, July 9, 2010

Johannesburg - South Africa's looming bid to host the Olympic Games in 2020 got a major boost on Thursday after FIFA President Sepp Blatter publicly said he will fully back the country's endeavor to host the world's second largest sporting event.

"If there is any country in Africa that can host the Olympics it is South Africa...I can tell you now if a country can host a FIFA World Cup successfully, that country can definitely organise the Olympics," Blatter said.

South Africa's successful hosting of the World Cup has increased its prospects of hosting the event when bidding opens for the 2020 Games. President Jacob Zuma told reporters last week that South Africa was up to the task.

The International Olympic Committee awarded the 2016 Games to Brazil, making it the first time a South American country will host the games. This will leave Africa as the only continent yet to stage the Olympics.

Blatter noted that unlike the World Cup, which requires the cooperation of many cities, organising the Olympics needed only one city. Both Durban and Cape Town have indicated their willingness to host the event should South Africa decide to launch its bid.

Since the dawn of democracy in1994, South Africa has hosted several major international events, including the Rugby World Cup in 1995, African Cup of Nations in 1996 and the Cricket World Cup in 2003. Next year the country is scheduled to host COP 17, the largest gathering of world leaders and civil organisations to discuss climate change.

"South Africa has shown what it can do. I know we are still going to match 63 and 64 but we are satisfied and if South Africa wants to host the Olympics I would fully support such a candidature," said Blatter. South Africa has proved its critics wrong and carried on with its organisation of the World Cup event at times when the hostile foreign media raised the issue of "plan B", he said.

He singled out Irvin Khoza and Danny Jordaan for the "sterling work" they put up in helping South Africa organise what many believe to be one of the best tournaments. "Africa and South Africa in particular should be proud of these men ... there is not a single European country that has as many good stadiums as South Africa, not a single one," he said.

While Khoza did not want to "give a judgment" before the end of the tournament, he was satisfied by what the country has managed to pull off since kick-off on 11 June. "We are now coming to the end of the World Cup and this means we have made history and I'm saying this because there were those who have doubted our ability. South Africa and Africa in general terms has fulfilled its obligations we still have two matches but we are satisfied that this continent can do as much as the others," Khoza said.