It was in Sept-Oct 2014 issue of Rolling Inspiration that I mentioned my fascination with the fact that the Commonwealth Games is a fully inclusive multisport event. It is a world event that offers an opportunity for athletes from the Commonwealth countries to compete on an even footing against others. But is this a fair competition among the potential hosts, if all other cities that bid to host this event in 2022 withdrew with good reason? And leave Durban to forward proposals explaining why it is suitable and capable to host the games in seven years’ time.
Now I do not want to sound like a naysayer or prophet of doom, but want to share my opinions about us hosting this event. It is a marvellous opportunity for the future of sports in our country, but it needs buy in from the right kind of people. This is all said with the aftertaste of the Soccer World Cup in our mouths. Major cities were left with an expensive legacy; Gauteng received e-tolls in exchange for upgraded freeways that were ready for 2010. Cape Town has an expensive stadium that is grossly underused and yet it costs millions to run. The country’s politicians have learnt expensive lessons about consulting before implementing their ideas. But not all is doom and gloom, our public transport systems in almost a dozen cities have all benefitted by consultants who preached accessibility in most of them. There too are a few other infrastructure developments that can be counted as successes from previous events hosted in South Africa.
Hosting any major event should leave any city with improved services and increased levels of skills and a financial reward that the initial investment provides. The CEO of the Durban 2022 committee, Mr Tubby Reddy, predicts the cost of the games at about 6 billion rand. While finance gurus at Ernst & Young did an impact study that shows the games will boost the GDP by R11 billion. This makes financial sense today, but one could just hope that the experiences of the many visitors, participants and service providers of the games will benefit then too. And not only should the reward be financial, it should be tangible enough to be felt on the ground at grassroots level especially in areas where many aspiring athletes are struggling to have access to development funds and expertise to improve their sports. Nor should we wait until then to reap, but commitments by prominent leaders should be made regarding the development of sports.
At the OCC in George this year, has the MEC for Social Development in the Western Cape, Mr Albert Fritz, publicly announced a R100 000.00 investment towards the event next year. This news was welcomed by loud cheers from a rain soaked crowd that will remember it when the time comes to participate next year. We need prominent people to make commitments to the event in 2022 in order to ensure that it will be a huge success and have a lasting impact on all the citizens of the country. The timing of the event 19th to 30th of July 2022 ties well in with the celebration of Mandela Day as the opening ceremony will be on the 18th. Many of our hearts and minds have to be filled with the same goodwill and passion that our great leader had for sports in this country as we embark on this project.
It will be held in a very popular city that has fairly good infrastructure and boasts world-class facilities and venues. This is a real sporting chance for many of us to harness some courage, sharpen our skills and commit to being part of this future event. The South African bid committee made their ceremonial presentation in London; the next step is an evaluation commission from the Commonwealth Games Federation that will interrogate the bid to see whether it is feasible and deliverable. Let us unite in backing this bid to see both abled and disabled sportsmen and women competing in various sports events right here in South Africa in 2022.