Tokyo – President Jacob Zuma said South Africa would be “very happy” if it became the first African nation to host the Olympics, as venues look ahead to 2024.
“If we are given an opportunity in the near future, we’ll certainly welcome that,” Zuma told reporters today at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo when asked for his thoughts on South Africa bidding for the Games next decade.
“I think South Africa will be very happy to host the Olympics. We have, I think, sufficient facilities to do so.”
In 2010, South Africa became the first African nation to host the football World Cup, crowning its full return to the international sporting community after its racial segregation system of apartheid was lifted in 1994.
“Ever since 1994, we have been part of the world and have hosted a number of important world events and when it comes to the Olympics, you know, we also attempted to host it,” he said.
South Africa opted out of bidding for the 2020 Games, although Durban was seen as the country’s more likely candidate, with the government in Pretoria saying it had more pressing national priorities.
In 2012, the SA Olympic Committee launched a feasibility study on bidding for the 2024 Olympics.
“We certainly welcome if the Olympic committee offered us to host,” Zuma said, adding that his country “will waste no time” in gearing up for the challenge.
The International Olympic Committee will choose the 2020 Olympic host among Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid on September 7.
Bidding for the 2024 Olympics will begin in 2015 and the IOC will decide the winner in 2017.
Nairobi (Kenya) and Casablanca (Morocco) are among African cities that have expressed interest in hosting the 2024 Games. Doha (Qatar) is seen as likely to bid again for 2024 after failing to make the shortlist of candidates for 2020.
Paris is seen as a potential candidate for the Summer Games in 2024 to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1924 edition it hosted.
Zuma was in Yokohama, Japan over the weekend, to attend an international conference on aid to Africa.
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