CHAOYANG, BEIJING: South Africa is on track to deliver the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the South African government, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) and FIFA told a gathering crowd of international media representatives in Chaoyang today, Thursday, 21 August 2008.
In a panel discussion forum facilitated by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) and the Department of Sports and Recreation on Thursday, LOC CEO Danny Jordaan said South Africa was well on course to host successful events.
“In terms of our stadium construction programme, our deadline for the Confederations Cup venues is December 2008, those stadiums are there and they are being upgraded.
“In terms of stadium readiness, we can say here, that will be ready by the end of 2009. All the stadiums will be complete for kick off.
"For the rest of the stadiums, the completion date is October 2009. Eighty percent of those stadiums will be completed by July 2009,” he said.
Casting through a chronicle of events that brought the first-ever World Cup to Africa, Jordaan said South Africa's hosting of a successful event will open doors for other African countries to host other prestigious sporting events in the future - mentioning the Olympics among some of these.
“Therefore it is very important that we succeed in this world cup, because nothing less is required to open the door for the last major event on the continent the Olympics,” he added.
More than just football
Jordaan said he believed that hosting of such an event should be more than just football. It should be about improving the country and the lives of the people who live in it.
“It is about nation-building, it's about infrastructure improvement for us, it's about country branding, it's about repositioning, it's about improving the image of our country, and it's about tourism promotion.
“It's about all of those things that we want, it's about return on investment, it's about job creation, it's about legacy and these are the things that not only drive not only our nation but nations of the world,” said Jordaan.
Minister in the presidency Essop Pahad reiterated Jordaan's sentiments, saying SA is on track to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
“The staging of the event on African soil presents us with an enormous opportunity to showcase our country and our continent. I want to assure and reassure all of you present today that we are on track to host one of the best and most successful World Cups of soccer ever held.
“Our overarching goal is to host an incredible event on our continent that will be the envy of all. The eyes of the world are already on us but the stare will intensify right after the Olympics in Beijing are over,” he said.
FIFA also reaffirmed its commitment to South Africa and the country as credible hosts of the first African World Cup.
Said FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke: “We [at] FIFA are working very hard with South Africa to ensure that the world cup will happen in South Africa. If we say the World Cup will take place in South Africa, it will take place in South Africa.
“We are on the right timing the right track to ensure that all goes according to plan.”
South African police commissioner Andre Pruis promised delegates a safe and secure world cup, saying most of the safety and security infrastructure is already in place.
Deputy minister of finance Jabulani Moleketi said that the money being spent to refurbish SA's infrastructure and transport is money well spent, saying the country can only benefit long after the world cup from these improvements.
A representative from MATCH - official hospitality partner to FIFA - stated he was confident with the country's accommodation capacity and quality.
“When you look at the infrastructure preparations for the world cup, it's about building facilities for sports, for instance; the South African government for that infrastructure is spending close to R33 billion. That is the infrastructure which will remain for South Africans to utilise beyond 2010.
“But over and above that, within that amount we are spending about R13 billion on transportation. That is about extending the capacity of South Africa to move people. Any economist will tell you that any country's economic viability relies heavily on its ability to move people and good,” he continued.
Simangaliso Zwane is the website content manager for the official 2010 FIFA World Cup country website in South Africa (www.sa2010.gov.za). He is a journalism post-graduate, specialising in online publishing and content, and website development. He has won numerous awards in the online publishing industry and has worked for various online publication and companies including e.tv, Independent Online (IOL), Thunda.com and DITonline. Email him at .
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