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South Africa to bid for 2022 Commonwealth Games

South Africa will try to bring the Commonwealth Games to Africa for the first time in 2022, one of a series of smaller sports events the country is targeting after dropping plans to bid for the 2020 Olympics.

AP, Thursday 2 Jun 2011
South Africa
Jacques Rogge and South Africa president Jacob Zuma

South Africa's Olympic committee president Gideon Sam said Thursday that South Africa "will go in for 2022" and will submit its bid immediately after the decision is made on the host of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in November.

Last week, Sam's South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee had to abandon hopes of a 2020 Olympic bid after it failed to win government support.

South Africa also wants to hold the World Games - an event featuring non-Olympic sports - in 2017 and has had discussions with IAAF President Lamine Diack about staging a Diamond League athletics meet next year, Sam said.

Sam spoke to reporters in Durban as the east coast city marked the 30-day countdown to the International Olympic Committee session in July where the 2018 Winter Games host city will be chosen.

South Africa - the 2010 football World Cup host country - will now build up to a likely bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics by targeting the smaller, less-costly events.

South Africa's government said last week it was too soon to bid for the Olympics and wanted to concentrate, instead, on delivering services for its millions of poor people.

Durban was widely expected to be South Africa's candidate city for the 2020 Olympics.

"Yes, there may be a tinge of disappointment, but we understand," Sam said on abandoning the bid. "You can go to any of the township areas in South Africa and see the needs of our people on the ground.

"So how do you justify 100 billion rand ($14 billion) on an event for two weeks?" Instead, SASCOC will target the first Commonwealth Games in Africa in 2022.

Gold Coast in Australia and Sri Lanka's Hambantota are competing for the 2018 Commonwealths, and the winner will be announced on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts and Nevis on November 11.

"Immediately after the announcement of where the 2018 Commonwealth Games will be, we will go in for 2022," Sam said. "It's never been in Africa so we want to put in a bid." The Commonwealth Games have been held in North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia in their 80-year history.

Nigeria failed in a bid for the 2014 games, which went to Glasgow, Scotland.

"They've (Commonwealth Games organizers) asked us in the past to put up our hand. But in the horse-trading that goes on in politics, we stood back for Nigeria," Sam said. "So this time around we said we are not going to do any horse trading, we're going to put up our hand and we will see how it goes." South Africa also wants to host a Diamond League meet before next year's London Olympics in an attempt to boost the country's athletics profile ahead of an expected future Olympic bid.

Sam said the country was pursuing a Diamond League event "very vigorously" and it was "progressing very well." He added talks would continue on the sidelines of next month's IOC session in Durban.

South Africa's Durban-born IOC executive board member Sam Ramsamy said tight security would be in place for the July 4-9 session, where Munich; Annecy, France and Pyeongchang, South Korea, are competing for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The vote will be held on July 6.

German President Christian Wulff has announced he will attend in support of Munich's bid. The political leaders representing Annecy and Pyeongchang had not been confirmed, Ramsamy said.

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