South Africa's Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has reportedly given his full support to the country's efforts to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup despite previously banning rugby, cricket, netball and athletics from bidding for events.
Mbalula's backing was supposedly given to the Rugby World Cup bid during a visit to the country from World Rugby's technical review group.
He had announced last April that the four sports would not be allowed to bid for major events as the national governing bodies in each had missed their transformation targets.
Various targets were agreed with the Government in 2014, aimed at increasing the amount of black people playing sport.
Despite the ban, SA Rugby, the sport's governing body in South Africa, submitted the necessary documents for a bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in the hope they could persuade Mbalula to support the move.
This appears to have been successful.
Speaking to South Africa's The Sunday Times, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has claimed that efforts to bring rugby's showpiece event to the country now has the full backing of Mbalula.
"The Sports Minister now fully supports the Rugby World Cup 2023 bid," he said.
"There is not a question mark over that.
"There was some concern from the delegation but that has been put to rest.
"I cannot comment about whether the ban should be rescinded, but we should welcome the news that Minister Mbalula has given the bid his public support rather than push him into a corner about formally rescinding the ban.
"In terms of transformation, rugby has made massive gains.
"Certainly at a national level it is hardly an issue because nobody counts numbers anymore."
Mbalula is due to make a decision on whether to lift the ban on bidding this month.
His support also comes despite Durban being stripped of hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games last week.
Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President Louise Martin made the decision on March 13 after she failed to get assurances from the country's President Jacob Zuma that his Government would financially support the event.
The decision was taken by the CGF during a meeting prior to the launch of the Queen's Baton Relay at Buckingham Palace for Gold Coast 2018.
It had been estimated that staging the Games in Africa for the first time would have cost at least ZAR8 billion (£498 million/$607 million/€567 million).
The South African city had been awarded the Games by the CGF at its Assembly in Auckland in September 2015 when they were the only bidder following the withdrawal of Edmonton.
However, since then, they had not formed an Organising Committee or made any of the payments due to the CGF.
South Africa last staged the Rugby World Cup in 1995, paving the way for an iconic competition that culminated in President Nelson Mandela presenting the trophy to captain Francois Pienaar, creating one of sport's most famous images.
Ireland and France are also bidding for the 2023 tournament.
With candidates due to submit their detailed bid documents to World Rugby on June 1, the technical review group will now travel to Ireland for a visit from tomorrow (March 21) to Wednesday (March 22) before heading to France between March 30 and 31.
The World Rugby delegation will meet with representatives of each bid and offer advice and support to assist the bidding process.
Each visit will provide an opportunity for candidates to discuss their plans in detail, clarify any questions on the technical aspects or bid process and allow officials from the sport's global governing body to meet with Government representatives.
World Rugby will also use the occasion to reiterate all expectations regarding guarantees and requirements to "ensure a fair and transparent bidding process".
In line with World Rugby’s "robust selection procedure", all bids will be reviewed in detail by a specialist group and independently assessed to ensure a "fair and consistent approach to the decision-making process".