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'SA ready to host Commonwealth Games despite budget concerns'

Sports Director-General Alec Moemi says several plans are in place to tackle potential shortfalls in the R4.6 billion budget to host the event.

Durban was awarded the right to stage the 2022 Commonwealth Games in 2015.

JOHANNESBURG – Sport and Recreation’s Director-General Alec Moemi says the country is ready to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games despite concerns over budget.

Inspectors are in the country to evaluate its readiness.

In 2015 Durban was awarded the right to stage the Games in 2015 as the only remaining bidder, but last week concerns were raised around the funding of the event when Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula admitted the government could not agree with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) on the operational budget.

The current budget allocated for the games stands at R4.6 billion.

While there are concerns that this may not be enough, Moemi says several plans are already in place.

“Our Minister of Finance has guaranteed that should the R4.6 billion run out, we’ll only add 18% of the originally planned budget.”

South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) Tubby Reddy believes the bid committee has met the requirements of the CGF, who will make a final decision on Durban’s hosting at a meeting on 10 March.

“I am satisfied in my mind that we have done enough to keep the Games,” Reddy said in a telephonic interview.

“We were asked to submit outstanding documentation by 30 November, which we did, and in my mind we have given the CGF everything they have asked for.

“It is now up to them to decide the way forward at their March 10 meeting.”

Should the Games go ahead, the track and field events will be staged at the Moses Mabhida Stadium that was built ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup with thoughts of a Commonwealth Games and, ultimately, Olympic Games bid in mind.

Reddy admitted that in a country with high levels of poverty and communities in desperate need of basic services, the decision by government to fund the Games was a “difficult one”.

“The arguments can be made for the benefits the Games would bring in terms of tourism and adding to the country’s GDP, which can be significant,” he added.

“Sports events have in the past proven an avenue for a country to raise revenue.

“But the other side is the question of do you spend this money on sports event when there are so many other issues in relation to housing, education, sanitation, and so on. It’s a difficult one, some feel it is justified, others not.”

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)