'Wayde van Niekerk Stadium' runs into a roadblock

12 September 2017 - 17:11
By Aphiwe Deklerk
South Africa's Olympic gold medalist Wayde van Niekerk.
Image: Getty Images South Africa's Olympic gold medalist Wayde van Niekerk.

The City of Cape Town has done an about-turn on plans to name Green Point Athletics Track after Olympic gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk.

This comes almost a year after Premier Helen Zille proposed the stadium be named after Cape Town-born Van Niekerk owing to his heroics at the 2016 Rio Games‚ where he won gold and broke the 400m world record.

Mayor Patricia de Lille backed the idea in February but a report to Wednesday’s council naming and nominations committee has shot down the idea‚ saying a “heroes’ wall” would be built at the stadium instead.

“After discussions between the executive mayor‚ the premier of the Western Cape and the chairperson of the naming committee‚ it was agreed that the City of Cape Town would not proceed with the previous proposal that the Green Point Athletics Track be renamed after Wayde van Niekerk‚” reads the report.

The wall would honour all athletes who have achieved Olympic hero status and would ensure no athlete would be excluded.

Michael Mpofu‚ Zille’s spokesman‚ said he was not privy to any discussions on the matter. Naming committee chairman Brett Herron said the council naming policy allowed individuals to be honoured only posthumously‚ except under exceptional circumstances.

“Given this policy direction‚ it is proposed that the city should rather opt for a different solution where we can pay tribute to all of those athletes who have performed exceptionally on the world stage‚” he said.

“As such‚ instead of naming a stadium after one person only‚ the city’s naming committee will discuss the alternative proposal.”

 - TimesLIVE