DURBAN, South Africa (AP) - Durban’s 2022 Commonwealth Games bid still has “challenges” before it can become the event’s first African host, including getting a financial guarantee from the South African government, a bid leader said.
Durban bid committee chief executive Tubby Reddy told The Associated Press that Durban may have to sign a “conditional” agreement with the Commonwealth Games Federation next month if, as expected, it is awarded the games.
That’s because Reddy doesn’t expect to have a guarantee letter from South Africa’s finance ministry covering the cost of the games by Sept. 2, when the CGF votes to award the games at its General Assembly in Auckland, New Zealand.
Durban is the only candidate for 2022 after Edmonton, Canada, withdrew.
Reddy, who is also chief executive of South Africa’s Olympic committee, said in an interview that Durban would have 90 days from the hosting decision to acquire the financial guarantees for the Commonwealth Games.
“We still need that guarantee from treasury … just to tie up a few of the clauses as such to ensure that we are not exposing ourselves as a country too much,” Teddy said. “But by the same token, giving the CGF confidence that this country can actually do what we’re saying we can do.”
South Africa’s first foray into major international multi-sports events would cost around $670 million, Reddy said, with $470 million of that coming from government. The rest would be raised by commercial agreements around the games.
Durban’s lack of a financial guarantee from government was one of the issues raised by the CGF’s evaluation report last month.
“There are challenges which we will have to iron out as we go forward,” Reddy said, adding “the general vibe has been positive” from the CGF.
There are other concerns with some venues and the proposed site for the athletes’ village, which has not yet been purchased by games organizers, Reddy said.
Durban, a city on South Africa’s warm and balmy east coast, is planning to use an outdoor pool near the beachfront for the swimming at the games, although that might raise problems during bad weather. Also, bid organizers haven’t yet settled on a final venue for shooting, and Reddy said there was a possibility that the shooting could take place in another city.
Durban’s sports program for 2022 may change, too, with the CGF set to vote on increasing the number of core sports - sports that have to be included in the games - at its congress in New Zealand next month.
Durban has left gymnastics off the program for 2022 because of no suitable venue, but may be forced to include it. If that happened, Reddy said, they would ask the CGF to help pay for the facility, and “come to the party with funding toward that.”
Cycling governing body the UCI is also “pushing hard” for Durban to include track cycling, which is not a core sport, Reddy said. The city doesn’t have a cycling track and didn’t include the event as it tries to avoid expensive new facilities.
“We’re saying: No problem. You want us to put track cycling (in), come and build a velodrome,” Reddy said. “UCI, you come and build it.”
Durban’s Commonwealth bid should be a precursor to a South African Olympic bid in 2028, Reddy said, “especially if one delivers 2022.” Durban would then be the obvious choice to be South Africa’s Olympic candidate.
“My opinion is very clear. We would try 2028. Possibly, the way Olympic bids go, you fail and you get 2032,” Reddy said.
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