Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
2 Mar 2015
6:10 pm

Durban presents bid for ‘Compact’ games

Wesley Botton

Durban's bid committee says the city aims to host the "most compact" edition of the Commonwealth Games in 2022, centred around the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Picture Thinkstock

The committee lodged a lone official bid with the executive committee of the Commonwealth Games Federation in London on Monday, after Edmonton withdrew as the only other potential host last month for financial reasons.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, Durban mayor James Nxumalo, MECs from KwaZulu-Natal and three ambassadors — Olympic breaststroke champion Cameron van der Burgh, former olympic long jump medallist Khotso Mokoena and paralympic sprinter Dyan Buis — formed part of the delegation.

“With at least 80% of the sports activities happening within a 2.5km radius, the city’s vision is to develop Moses Mabhida Stadium as a mega multi-sport events precinct, positioning it as a premier sports tourism destination,” said bid committee chairman Mark Alexander.

Aside from the stadium, which was built for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, the Durban International Convention Centre, Durban Exhibition Centre, Kings Park Rugby

Stadium and the University of KZN had all been pegged as potential venues for the Games.

Alexander said the country’s National Development Plan and the National Sport and Recreation Plan underpinned the decision to bid for the Games, which had been publicly criticised for the potential high costs involved.

“We are confident and remain upbeat that when the decision is made on September 2, Durban will be rewarded as hosts for the 2022 Games,” Alexander said.

The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) said in a statement that “effective and efficient transport routes” already existed in the East Coast city, as well as leisure and entertainment facilities.

“The easy movement of people through both competition and non-competition venues will contribute to the success of the Games,” Sascoc said.

Sascoc chief executive Tubby Reddy believed the Games would assist with sports development by giving athletes a chance to compete on the international stage at home.

“Without doubt, the investment in sporting codes is paramount and there are strategic plans focussed on sports talent identification and support programmes that will not only help deliver medals for our country in 2022, but will inspire future generations through sport,” Reddy said.

Mbalula confirmed government, which had previously called for a possible bid of the Olympic Games, was in full support of the Commonwealth bid.

“Over the past 20 years of South Africa’s democracy, sport has played a huge role in uniting a once divided people,” Mbalula said.

“Our intent, therefore, is for the Commonwealth Games in 2022 to help us continue this legacy trajectory by addressing, among other goals, human capital development.

“Almost half of South Africa’s 53 million people are under the age of 25, and youth outreach is therefore core to our legacy  programme for the Games.”

If Durban wins the uncontested bid for the 22nd edition of the Games, South Africa will become the first African nation to host the quadrennial event.