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Tuesday Mar 03, 2015

Durban Commonwealth Games bid goes ahead

It is still unclear how much Durban and the South African government will have to fork out to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

In what could be seen as just a formality, the South African government and city officials submitted a 600-page bid document at the games' headquarters, Mansion House, in London, yesterday. Durban was the only bidding city after Edmonton, Canada, pulled out of the race last month, citing financial constraints.

The South African delegation was led by Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula, his Kwa-Zulu-Natal counterpart, Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha, eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo, Sascoc's chief executive, Tubby Reddy, and the bid committee chairman, Mark Alexander.

Speaking on the sidelines of the bid submission yesterday, Sibhidla-Saphetha said her department had "received guarantees" from the cabinet despite there having been no official word from the government.

There was no mention of the games in President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address last month, or in Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene's Budget speech. A storm erupted in the Durban City Hall last month when it emerged that eThekwini, with the national and provincial governments, was to fork out R98 million to bid for the games.

Sibhidla-Saphetha said: "It is a national project... we have received guarantees from a number of departments in terms of the things they need to do.

"We are confident we will get the support.

"The national government will determine how they fund the games. As soon as Sport and Recreation and the Treasury table with the national cabinet, they will come up with a funding model and where resources will come from. We can't say for sure now, but we are confident of the national government's support."

She said the bid presentation had gone "very well" and that she was excited.

She said Durban's existing infrastructure meant preparations would not have to start from scratch.

A statement issued by the Commonwealth Games Federation said the bid lodgement was the first of the milestones Durban would have to pass as part of the official process.

Mbalula said the national government fully supported the bid. Alexander said: "Our mission to London was simple: to present an unsurpassed bid document that will captivate the Commonwealth executive and then, rightfully, allow the people of South Africa to be the host.

"With at least 80% of the sports activities happening within a 2.5km radius, the city's vision is to develop Moses Mabhida Stadium as a mega-multisport events precinct, positioning it as a premier sports tourism destination."

Reddy appealed to South Africans to support the bid.

Durban is expected to be announced as the host city in Auckland, New Zealand, on September 2.

The Mercury


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