By Paul Osborne at the Susesi Convention Center in Belek

Gideon Sam, President of SASCOC, has claimed it is Africa's turn to host the Commonwealth Games ©Getty ImagesApril 10 - It is Africa's turn to host the Commonwealth Games following Durban's expression of interest to stage the event in 2022, it has been claimed by Gideon Sam, President of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).

Speaking exclusively to insidethegames, Sam claimed, after being to so many other countries, it was now time for Africa to be given the opportunity, claiming the infrastructure was already in place to handle such a large event, thanks to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. 

"When the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) talked about not having bidders, we thought maybe as things stand, it is probably Africa's time," he said during the SportAccord International Convention here.

"And in that context we put up our hand and can now see that Edmonton have done the same, but we believe that we just need to carry on and if there is any honesty in the world it is Africa's time.

"It's been to Canada, it's been to Australia, it's been to England, it's been to Scotland, it's been to Asia but it's never been to Africa.

"And we believe that it is our time.

"We have the infrastructure.

"[The World Cup] 2010 helped us a lot.

"If you look at Durban, the stadium is in place, the swimming pool is in place, the athletics track is in place, which will of course be in the Moses Mabhida Stadium, the International Cricket Club is big enough.

"We will follow the same trend as London and use all these exhibition centres for the indoor sports.

"So we are asking ourselves, 'What else?'

"We will go to the developers because they are very keen to develop in Durban, find a piece of land and let them develop an Athletes' Village which afterwards will be sold because there is a huge demand for accommodation in Durban.

"So we've looked at all this.

"I don't know what else.

"Our roads are good.

"Railway lines are good, telecoms are good.

"We're almost there you know."

The Moses Mabhida Stadium will be the centrepiece of the Durban bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games ©Anesh DebikyAFP/Getty ImagesThe Moses Mabhida Stadium, built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be the centrepiece of the Durban bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games ©AFP/Getty Images

Sam claimed that, with concerns over who was going to bid for the 2022 Games following "very thin" interest from member federations, it was only after South Africa's Government supported Durban's case that they could move forward with a bid for the competition.

"I sit on the CGF and we were quite concerned on who's going to bid because after Sri Lanka and the Gold Coast we were very thin in terms of who's going to bid," he said.

But Sam admitted that he nearly encouraged Nigeria to bid again, with the capital Abuja having lost out to Glasgow to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games. 

"Well I held out until the last moment because I kept saying to my fellow executive members, 'Guys, I don't think we're going to put up our hand if the Government isn't giving us the go-ahead'," said Sam. 

"Then, fortunately for us, the ball started rolling when our High Commissioner in London called [CGF chief executive] Mike Hooper, or Mike called him, and he then put the pressure on the Minister back home and the Minister said we're in.

"So it's last minute really because I was at the point of saying, 'Guys maybe as a goodwill gesture let's go and assist Nigeria to put up a good bid'.

"But then people said, 'Why you want to go to Nigeria', and I said, 'well it's one of the continent's big economies, why not?'

"If we're not going to bid, if the Government is not going to put up its end, I think there are enough people in South Africa who have been closely aligned with the Commonwealth Games ever since we got back in 1994 to know what goes on inside the Commonwealth Games.

"We might as well go and assist Nigeria in putting together a far better bid than they have in the past."

Gideon Sam had been calling for an African country to bid for the Commonwealth Games for a while but wanted the backing of the South African Government before pressing forward with a bid by the country ©Getty ImagesGideon Sam had been calling for an African country to bid for the Commonwealth Games for a while but wanted the backing of the Government before pressing forward with a campaign ©Getty Images

Following the backing of the Government, Sam insisted that South Africa, and more specifically Durban, deserved to host the event, and that after staging other major events in previous years, including the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the International Olympic Committee (IOC0 Session in 2011, it was not just a case of sympathy that the CGF would award the hosting rights to the African nation.

"You must also remember that you can't just give it," he said.

"You have to earn your stripes.

"There must be something you have done on the bigger scale.

"I mean anyone can ask us in South Africa, what have you done?

"We've done the World Cup in rugby], we've done cricket, and we've done big events on the environment.

"You know it, its huge events that we've done in South Africa.

"It's not a question of, 'Oh what a shame let's give it to them'.

"No, no, no.

"At least show proof that you've done A,B, C, D and get to that level.

"And I mean with the International Olympic Committee Session that we had, people were saying, 'Guys why don't you bid why don't you want it'.

"Not really wanting to blow our own trumpet but people have seen what we're capable of.

"I mean, it was not a shabby IOC Session, it was top of the draw."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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