Cape Town - South Africa is seeking support from other African nations for Durban's bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which would bring the competition to the continent for the first time and possibly lay the groundwork for an attempt to stage the first Olympics in Africa.
South Africa's Olympic committee hosted a dinner Sunday in Botswana for representatives from 16 of Africa's Commonwealth countries to rally support behind the bid by the east coast city of Durban. Edmonton, Canada, has also announced its candidacy for the games in eight years.
Cities must lodge their bids to host the 2022 Games by March 2015. The winning candidate will be announced in September 2015.
The games are seen as a springboard for South Africa to launch a bid for the Summer Olympics, probably either in 2024 or 2028. Durban is also South Africa's preferred city for the Olympics.
Top South African Olympic officials, including International Olympic Committee executive board member Sam Ramsamy, are in Gaborone, Botswana, this week for the African Youth Games and to lobby support for Durban's bid. South Africa hopes its experience of hosting the 2010 World Cup will boost its chances of landing the Commonwealth Games and ultimately the Olympics.
“We are once again ready to invest in the hosting of a mega event,” South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee chief executive Tubby Reddy said in a statement outlining the country's credentials. “To this end we have targeted the need to bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.”
Ramsamy, the former head of South Africa's first non-racial Olympic body, has said the country will “definitely” bid for an Olympics in 2024 or 2028. Cape Town previously lost out in the race to host the 2004 Olympics.
South African sports officials have targeted another attempt at the Olympics ever since the successful World Cup four years ago but say they need backing from the government before they can pursue a bid and were waiting until after national elections this month to approach the country's leadership.
Sports minister Fikile Mbalula has been a vocal supporter of an Olympic bid and was retained in President Jacob Zuma's cabinet reshuffle this weekend.