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‘eThekwini will host successful Commonwealth Games’

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Commonwealth Games bosses have given their full backing to South Africa’s hosting of the 2022 event‚ despite the country missing three crucial early deadlines.

According to reports‚ the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) was unhappy with South Africa’s so-called “noncommittal” attitude towards hosting the 2022 event – which could have resulted in the Games being given to another nation‚ most likely Sri Lanka. This was set to be discussed at the CGF executive committee meeting in London on Tuesday.

But a spokesman said the foundation had full confidence in the country’s ability to host the event.

The Durban-based eThekwini Municipality is not able to fully fund the Games‚ and KwaZulu-Natal finance MEC Belinda Scott said earlier this year that provincial government would be unable to foot the bill – meaning national government would have to provide financial guarantees for the estimated R6.4-billion event.

Last month‚ the city said R150-million was committed towards the development of three world-class heated swimming pools for the games. eThekwini municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole said the city would be funding R500-million towards infrastructure.

“The budget to build the Commonwealth village will come from the Department of Human Settlements. That would be the biggest expense. Once the games are over it would be sold to people who don’t get subsidies‚” Sithole said.

He said although they were behind by a month in terms of setting up the planning committees‚ upgrades had commenced.

However‚ Treasury has not yet signed these guarantees‚ nine months after the Games were awarded to the city.

The South African government has also missed its first payment tranche to the CGF‚ and has yet to establish a local organising committee (LOC). In fact‚ the inter-ministerial committee set up to begin establishing the LOC has not even met yet.

These instances had led to fears that Durban could lose the rights to host the Games.

But a CGF spokesman – while not denying that deadlines had been missed – rubbished these claims. He said the federation had been working with the South African government as the financial arrangements were finalised and the organising committee and board established.

Discussions had also taken place between the CGF and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and Department of Sports director-general Alec Moemi.

“As part of our collaborative delivery partnership we have been reassured that the first host city payment will be honoured soon as they finalise their governance and structures‚” the spokesman said.

He added that they were confident that South Africa would “not only deliver on their commitments to successfully host the Games in six years’ time‚ but also write a new chaper for the Commonwealth sports movement as the first Commonwealth Games on African soil”.

Sport department spokesman Esethu Hasane said on Thursday that the federation was not putting pressure on South Africa for any financial guarantees‚ or for the first tranche to host the Games.

“The federation takes the lead from the department so they have to wait‚” he said.

He said allegations that South Africa could lose the bid by default to Sri Lanka because there was no financial commitment as yet were made by pessimists.

“Cabinet approved the bid first. The Minister (Mbalula) went to London to bid because Cabinet had approved the bid‚ so when you bid you know that there are financial implications. After we won the bid‚ Cabinet congratulated the department and also said they are ready to host the Games.

“That is why we are saying there aren’t any concerns when it comes to our side because government processes are underway‚” said Hasane.

He added that government was working behind the scenes to take sure the Games took place.

“What I can tell you right now is that government is working on the games. Our government is not sleeping and is working very hard to host the games‚” he said.

Hasane said the CGF meeting in London on Tuesday was an “ordinary federation meeting”.

“They will discuss amongst others‚ the Commonwealth Games. We cannot avoid being discussed because we are the host nation‚” he said.

eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo said during his budget speech on Tuesday that the city’s preparations were going well.

“More than 80% of the facilities for the Games already exist. The city of Durban is well on track‚” he said.

[Source: Times Live]
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