Opposition parties have criticised the eThekwini Municipality’s interest in bidding to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, saying the money could be better spent on housing.
It was reported this week that Durban would compete against Edmonton in Canada to host the event as they were the only two cities to submit expressions of interest on Monday, a deadline set by the Commonwealth Games Federation.
The eThekwini Speaker, Logie Naidoo, said Durban had been encouraged by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) to be part of the bidding process because of its “great reputation” for hosting big events.
Naidoo said this had come up during a discussion at a sports conference held at the International Convention Centre last year.
“What will happen is that South Africa will bid as a country and, if we are successful, it will be decided at national level which city will be the host,” he said.
Naidoo said Durban was ready and well equipped.
“We have the infrastructure and the vacant land for athletes’ villages. We also have plenty of hotels.”
City manager S’bu Sithole said the bidding process came with cost implications and there would be a cost analysis.
“When it comes to hosting such an event we will not be doing it as Durban alone. This is an international event and we will expect (the) national government to assist,” he said.
However, DA councillor Heinz de Boer said any country taking on such an event ran the risk of bankruptcy.
“It is going to cost billions if Durban is to be the host city, and we need to be realistic – we just don’t have the money,” he said.
De Boer said that although it was a good thing to have such events occasionally, during tough economic times, the municipality should focus on addressing housing backlogs and job creation.
MF councillor Patrick Pillay said the city did not have the money.
“So many people are still waiting for houses and they should be prioritised. We also know that whatever infrastructure is built for the games will become a white elephant while our people continue to suffer.”
The bidding deadline is March next year. The successful bidder will be announced the following September. - The Mercury