South African Airways to support Springbok athletes in London
Saturday, 14 April 2012
April 14 - South African Airways (SAA) will be supporting its country's Olympic and Paralympic teams in Britain after a deal was agreed with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).
The agreement for London 2012 was announced at a ceremony hosted by SAA (pictured top) and SASCOC at the airline's technical hangar at OR Tambo International Airport.
SAA will provide airline travel for all the country's athletes this summer, and its Board of Directors chair, Cheryl Carolus, said: "SAA, as a national carrier, has a long standing history of supporting various national activities.
"This agreement is another significant contribution to our national efforts, and our company's mission of bringing the world to Africa and taking Africa to the world.
"As the national carrier we are honoured to support Team South Africa by flying them to London – backing them all the way in true South African style."
SASCOC had reportedly been discussing a deal with a Qatari airline before SAA, which has previously partnered with the ATP Tennis Tour, insisted it would not permit the country's Olympic and Paralympic athletes to fly with a foreign company.
SASCOC President Gideon Sam (pictured above) said: "We have been 'courting' SAA for some time now although we were obviously mindful that the current economic situation worldwide is impacting on all businesses.
"A chance meeting with the SAA chairperson created that opportunity for us to raise the matter again.
"She was adamant that it would be 'over her dead body' that the pride of South Africa be transported to and from the Games by a foreign carrier.
"The rest is history and here we are today to say thank you to a most welcome new partner."
Also attending the ceremony was South Africa's Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who reiterated the country's ambitions at this summer's Games.
"I know our team will do us proud," he told the gathering.
"We are targeting 12 medals.
"If we do less, please do not be angry with us – our preparations are afoot and we still need your support in both carrying our team and injecting financial money into the federations."
April 2012: South Africans upset over London 2012 deal with Chinese company