By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

July 28 - South Africa's hopes of hosting the 2020 Olympics have been dealt a severe blow by the most senior African member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Nawal El Moutawakel (pictured), who has claimed that it will be another 20 years before the continent is ready to host the Games.

The claim by the Moroccan that hosting the Olympics would be more than any African country could cope with at the moment despite the success of the FIFA World Cup will be a major jolt to South African cities hoping to launch a bid later this year for 2020.

El Moutawakel, the 1984 Olympic 400 metres hurdles, is uniquely placed to give an assessment of Africa's chances as she is currently leading the IOC's Coordination Commission overseeing Rio de Janeiro's preparations for the 2016 Games, the first time they have been staged in South America.

"There is a huge amount of work to be done besides political desire, hence the experts' view that any realistic chance for [hosting the] Olympics in Africa is between 2030 and 2040," said El Moutawakel, who is also a member of the IOC's ruling Executive Board.

"I have read studies by some universities specialising in the Olympics who gave Africa between 2030 and 2040 to host the Games and that is a very realistic chance because Olympics is a different ball game.

"I know South Africa did a wonderful job with the FIFA World Cup, right from the airport, going into the Johannesburg city and suburbs in wide smooth roads, to world class hotels and wonderful facilities in all the cities."

Johannesburg, along with Durban and Cape Town, have been mentioned as possible contenders to bid for the Games but El Moutawakel has claimed that an Olympics poses far greater challenges than a World Cup.

"[The] World Cup is one sport in nine cities, with 64 matches played by 32 countries in one month," said El Moutawakel, speaking in Nairobi, where she is attending the 17th African Athletics Championships, which started today.

"[The] Olympics is 26 sports in one city played by 10,500 athletes in three weeks and watched by billions around the world.

"Let us face it. Africa has many unique problems and other priorities to handle at the moment.

"So I think those studies are not off the mark."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
July 2010:
 South Africa officially enter race for 2020 Olympics
July 2010: Rogge - It is up to South Africa to decide whether to bid for Olympics
July 2010: Cape Town refuse to commit to Olympic bid for 2020
July 2010: Blatter promises to support South African Olympic bid
July 2010: World Cup proves Durban can host Olympics claims Mayor