By Duncan Mackay in Durban

Fikile_Mbalula_sitting_in_chairJuly 10 - South Africa's Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula will this week take the first formal steps to the country launching a bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, he has revealed.

Mbalula plans to write to South Africa's Cabinet requesting that they review the decision taken in May not to bid.

The deadline for submitting bids is September 1.

Mbalula is confident that he can persuade President Jacob Zuma and his colleagues to reverse the decision following the successful hosting of the 123rd International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session, which finished here yesterday. 

"For us to revisit the issue we will first have to submit a Cabinet memorandum before September," Mbalua told City Press.

"We have not yet started the process but we'll be doing so soon."

If a bid is put forward it will almost certainly come from Durban, centred around the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

City officials in Durban are hoping to convince Zuma that they can help fund the cost of a bid with the support of private sponsors.

"We understand that part of the difficulty at Cabinet would have been with the amount requested for the bid – of around ­­350 million rands (£35 million/$56 million)," said Mike Sutcliffe, the city manager of Durban. 

"But I think we could mobilise significant funds for the bid itself from the private sector, much in the way the bid for the 2010 World Cup was funded."

There is certainly plenty of appetite for a bid here. 

"I believe this [IOC] Session and its success may have changed a lot of minds about a Durban bid,'' said Logie Naidoo, the city's Speaker. 

"The international delegates have also expressed confidence in the city and the ability of South Africa as a whole to host key international events.

"A lot of people are talking again about the 2020 bid.

"Every delegate I have spoken to has also been very impressed with Durban and what we have to offer.

"As far as the city is concerned, whether it is 2020 or 2024, we are ready.

"We have a great sporting precinct, with land available to build new facilities, and already have excellent facilities for cycling, swimming, archery, athletics and other codes as well as room to expand where necessary.

"We are aware of the concerns about being saddled with long-term debt so soon after the World Cup, but we are already very fortunate in terms of infrastructure.

"We are ready and it's now up to Cabinet."

Among those backing a potential bid is the Coalition of Supporters Union of Africa (COSUA), a group formed in 2006 dedicated to supporting sport in Africa, who are due to hold their conference here later this month. 

Sarfo Abrebrese, the President of COSUA, promised that the conference will pass a motion supporting Durban - "a mission we are still committed to despite the decision by the government of South Africa not to go ahead with the bid".

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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