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S. Africa Olympic committee head rules out 2020 bid

South Africa's Olympic committee president ruled out a bid for the 2020 Summer Games on Thursday after the government said it was not the right time

AP, Thursday 26 May 2011
World Cup
City stadium in Soweto, suburban Johannesburg, during the opening ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup (Photo: AFP)

Gideon Sam told The Associated Press that his committee would only bid if the government gave its backing, and the project was "was off the radar for now" after South Africa's cabinet said it preferred to focus on national priorities.

"Our position is very clear," Sam said. "We would bid only if the government gives the go-ahead." Asked if he was ruling out a bid from a South African city for 2020, Sam replied "Definitely." Earlier, South Africa's government said it was not the right time for the country _ which successfully hosted Africa's first football World Cup last year _ to bid for the Olympics.

"Cabinet considered the request by the South African Sports Federation for the country to bid for the hosting of the 2020 Olympic Games," the statement said. "Cabinet has decided that it is better for the country to consolidate the gains of the 2010 FIFA World Cup for now and rather focus the country's attention to the delivery of basic services to all South Africans." Cabinet spokesman Jimmy Manyi told the AP that there was no support for a possible bid within South Africa's government, leaving Sam's South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee with no option but to abandon its hopes of bringing the Olympics to Africa for the first time in 2020.

"No Olympic movement in any country can bid for an Olympics without government support," Sam said. "We always said we would be guided by the government. It is important to be guided by the people with the resources.

"There is not much a sport organization can do without government support." Sam said South Africa might reconsider a bid for another Olympics "some time in the future." Durban had been considered South Africa's most likely bid city, with July's International Olympic Committee session in the east coast city a perfect springboard for it to launch itself as a candidate.

Thursday's announcement came three days after the IOC opened the 2020 bidding process, inviting national Olympic committees to submit the names of candidate cities by Sept. 1.

So far, Rome is the only city put forward as a candidate.

Other possible contenders include Tokyo; Madrid; Istanbul, Turkey; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The host city will be selected by the IOC in 2013.

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