Is Durban about to lose the 2022 Commonwealth Games?
The City of Ethekwini (Durban) is feared to be lagging behind after missing some deadlines in the preparations for hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
Top of the list of areas the host city for the Games is sluggish in meeting is the appointment of a local organising committee (LOC) – a process which has failed to meet deadlines since January.
The steady pace of the coastal city is said to have raised an eyebrow at the London-based headquarters of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF)‚ although no panic buttons have been swiftly pushed yet.
The federation’s committee will hold a meeting next week where it is believed that Durban will be on the agenda.
Although taking the Games away from the City of Ethekwini is not an immediate option‚ insiders indicate that Sri Lanka is already being suggested as Plan B.
SA sports minister Fikile Mbalula refused to answer any questions relating to the Games on Thursday.
“I am not going to comment on that‚” Mbalula told Times Media.
Sascoc chief executive Tubby Reddy was not available on his phone and did not return calls and messages sent to him.
Mark Alexander‚ who headed the bidding committee for the Games was not at liberty to comment.
“I am no longer involved‚” he said.
“My involvement ended with the bidding process. There was suppose to be an LOC that would continue the work. Unfortunately‚ I cannot comment.”
The city of Ethekwini denied any allegations of being behind any set deadlines.
“The City of Durban is well on track with preparations to host the Games‚” Ethekwini head of communications Tozi Mthethwa said.
Mthethwa did not give direct answers to some of the burning questions related to the delays‚ among them‚ the reasons behind Treasury reported reluctance to sign the Games' financial guarantees.
“As per eThekwini Mayor Cllr James Nxumalo’s reference to the Commonwealth Games during the tabling of the Budget Speech for 2016/2017 on 31 May 2016‚” said Mthethwa.
“The City has won the rights to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The Games are expected to create jobs‚ boost the local economy and bring many benefits to the City over the longer term.
"Games will underpin the City’s growing reputation as an events capital of the continent and may act as a major boost towards achieving the ambitious visitor targets set in the Municipality’s Tourism Strategy leading up to 2022.
“More than 80 percent of the facilities for the Games already exist. The vast majority of all facilities including nine of the 10 core sports are within the 2.5 kilometre radius making travelling in and round the area easy and convenient.
"The most critical issue is to ensure that all structures are in place to manage the games by all three spheres of government and to implement the necessary infrastructure for the games.”