Upcoming sport bonanza, boost for SA

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pretoria - The feast of sporting events that South African sport lovers will get a chance to revel in over the next few months will showcase the country as a venue of choice for hosting international sporting events.

This weekend sees the kick-off of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which will be followed by the British Lions Rugby tour and the International Cricket Council's Champions Trophy.

Government Spokesperson Themba Maseko said on Thursday that these events provided an opportunity for South Africa to build a momentum ahead of the FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

He said the upcoming "sport bonanza" would "go a long way towards cementing South Africa as a venue of choice for hosting international sporting events."

The IPL, which is the most lucrative cricket tournament in the world, was moved to South Africa after the Indian government was unable to assure security in that country.

The tournament, which will take place in six cities across the country, kicks off from 18 April until 24 April.

IPL organisers have said South Africa's success with the staging of the inaugural 20/20 Cricket World Cup was a major contributing factor to the decision to stage the event here.

Mr Maseko said Cabinet also endorsed the South African Ruby Union's bid to host either the 2015 or the 2019 Ruby World Cup.

He said with the Confederations Cup taking place soon after the IPL in June, the South African public is in for a "real bonanza".

"We are in for a fantastic IPL and Confeds Cup, not to mention the 2010 World Cup, which we will host definitely in true African style," said Mr Maseko.

These events, he said, present endless opportunities to market South Africa to the world.

The IPL will see the world's best cricketers including Captain Sachin Tendulkar from the Mumbai Indians, Kevin Pietersen from Royal Challengers Bangalore as well as Sourav Ganguly and Adam Gilchrist participating in other Indian teams.

Commenting on the announcement that the IPL will be hosted in South Africa, 2010 LOC Chief Executive Dr Danny Jordaan said the decision to select South Africa "adds a feather to South Africa's cap."

A key figure in the country winning the World Cup bid, Dr Jordaan has spent countless hours fending off criticism from foreign media about the readiness of South Africa to stage the 2010 international football showcase.

"Moving this tournament (IPL), with its considerable financial implications and huge global television audience, to South Africa in such a short space of time is yet another major indication of world confidence in us," said Dr Jordaan.

"Some of the biggest cricket stars in the world will be here showcasing again the world-class facilities of our country and love for high-quality entertainment."

Meanwhile, Mr Maseko also announced that the proposal for the South African National Defence Force to support the South African Police Services with borderline control during the Confederations Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup finals was approved.

A massive 41 000 additional policemen will be deployed before the 2010 tournament, with the police's budget alone amounting to R1.3 billion.

A grand plan is coming together to secure the routes, accommodation and tourist attractions. All these will ensure that South Africa is super safe by 2010.