September 12 - South Africa's Government has said that the nation is ready to host the first Olympics and Paralympics on African soil in the city of Durban in 2024, although an official decision is yet to be made on whether the country will join the bid race.
South Africa's only previous Games bid was when Cape Town went for the 2004 event, where it reached the final three cities in the vote before eventually losing out to Rome and eventual winners Athens, but Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) has today announced that a bid for the 2024 Games is a real possibility.
"The sport economy is one of the major fundamentals for the country," said spokesman Paena Galane.
"We continue to attract major events, and are attractive to the world after hosting world events like the FIFA World Cup [in 2010]."
"Interestingly, Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula is in Argentina attending the World Anti-Doping Agency executive meeting on the sidelines of the International Olympic Committee [IOC] Session, where delegates, after the announcement of Tokyo [as host city of the 2020 Games], spoke of Durban as the preferred destination," he claimed.
Despite these claims, KwaZulu-Natal's head of economic development and tourism, Desmond Golding, has said that no formal decision has been made regarding a bid for the 2024 Games, although he too showed enthusiasm for a potential bid from Durban.
Golding spoke of the encouragement the city has found after recently being identified as the friendliest city in South Africa by the Anholt-GfK Roper City Brand Index among other accolades, and also of the ambition of KwaZulu-Natal Province to host major sporting tournaments, with an events strategy set to be laid out in the near future.
"Durban has all the ingredients to host the Olympics and other major sporting events," he said.
Durban had been lined up as a potential candidate for the 2020 bid race, in which Tokyo triumphed over Istanbul and Madrid last weekend, but the South African Government decided to allow more time to focus on social priorities such as poverty.
South African IOC member Sam Ramsamy told insidethegames in the lead-up to London 2012 that a bid would be made to host the Games in 2024 instead.
"We are now looking forward to being a candidate for the 2024 Olympic Games," he said.
"I believe that everybody is looking forward to a South African bid because Africa is the one continent that has not hosted the Games.
"Many people believe that South Africa is the ideal spot for the Games and we will work on that."
The 2024 bid race is already starting to take shape just days after the battle to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics reached its climax, as it was revealed yesterday that Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta is keen on a bid for the Games, while the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is also mulling a bid, with multiple cities having already registered their interest.
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