SA steps up 2010 World Cup preparations

The hosting of the world soccer showpiece is set to increase pre-tournament activities throughout southern Africa to ensure increased spillover and direct benefits in a region that has created little impact in soccer. South African Deputy Sports and Recreation Minister Gert Oosthuizen has announced that nine cities will host 10 stadiums for the 2010 tournament. Four new venues will be built ‘ Greenpoint Stadium in Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, King’s Park Stadium in Durban and Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit ‘ while six others will be upgraded in time for 2010. The six include Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, and Soccer City and Ellis Park, both in Johannesburg. Government is now awaiting finalisation of contracts with owners of the existing stadiums, while the structures to be constructed in the coming four years will be owned by the relevant municipalities. Preparations have moved into gear with an announcement by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel that government would release R8.5 billion for capital projects related to the 2010 World Cup finals. Manuel, delivering his 2006 national budget speech to Parliament, said the plan had been signed to ensure that the country would be ready for football fans in just four years’ time. About R5 billion has been allocated for building and renovating the 10 World Cup stadiums. The remaining amount would be used on other preparations including the upgrading of the country’s road and rail infrastructure to ensure smooth travel of the anticipated three million tourists and visitors. Chief executive officer of the 2010 World Cup Preparatory Committee Danny Jordaan said the event would leave a legacy for football in the country. President Thabo Mbeki said during his State of the Nation address in Cape Town in February that South Africa owed it to the football world to prepare properly for the World Cup. In five months’ time, Germany will pass the baton to South Africa and the whole world will focus on South Africa. “From then on until 2010, the whole world will watch us carefully to judge whether we will be a worthy host of this prestigious tournament,” Mbeki said. Meanwhile, southern Africa has developed a joint strategy to improve infrastructure ahead of the 2010 World Cup. Dubbed “Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas 2010 Soccer World Cup Strategy”, it will be used to develop and market various trans-frontier parks and trans-frontier conservation areas in southern Africa as premier tourist destinations for the region. The region intends to use the soccer tournament to hasten the pace of infrastructural and tourism-based development in identified national parks and conservation areas. South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 World Cup and the need for regional co-operation in boosting infrastructure ahead of the tournament came up for discussion at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers meeting held in Botswana in February. Council chairperson Baledzi Goalathe, who is Botswana’s Minister of Finance and Development Planning, said the initiative aims to develop national parks in southern Africa as part of a joint regional package to showcase its tourism potential at the games. SADC member states have already formed an inter-ministerial committee to co-ordinate efforts during the build-up to the 2010 World Cup. Tourism authorities from Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe are working together to assess joint strategies in the area of infrastructure to prepare for the expected visitors to the region during the tournament. According to Mozambican Tourism Minister Fernando Sumbana, the committee will identify and promote tourism projects in the five countries involved in the initiative. “We are striving to turn this region into a tourism destination of international recognition,” he said. The inter-ministerial committee is taking a two-fold approach focusing on the activities to be conducted until 2010, and consolidating projects carried out so far to render them sustainable and profitable ahead of the tournament. ‘ sardc.net

April 2006
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