Cape Town - In a twist that is sure to upset many people, the City of Cape Town will no longer rename a local stadium after Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk.
Last year, after the champion runner struck gold at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Premier Helen Zille proposed the Green Point Athletics Stadium be renamed after him.
Wayde won the 400m race, and also set a new world record.
But now it seems the City has come down from its Olympic high, and on Thursday announced that Green Point Stadium will keep its name after all.
Instead, it is now proposed that a “Heroes’ Wall” be erected at the stadium, bearing the names of South African Olympians.
The City said Zille, Mayor Patricia de Lille and the Chairperson of the City’s Naming and Nomination Committee, Councillor Brett Herron, recently had discussions, where Zille’s proposal was shot down as being “too exclusive”.
Herron said: “This proposal [Heroes’ Wall] is more inclusive and complies with the City’s Naming Policy. Should the City in the end decide to go ahead with the heroes’ wall, it would give us the opportunity to honour and celebrate all of our great athletes - those who have made us proud at the Olympic Games in the past, and those still to come.”
Herron said the current gabion wall at the rear of the stadium which is 160m long, is being considered for the Heroes’ Wall.
“Nothing will happen until such time as the public participation process has been concluded and the proposal has been considered and approved by full Council,” Herron adds.
Kraaifontein residents were disappointed at the City’s about-face.
Morne Maloy of Dickie’s Barbershop says: “He made history, he is an Olympian but will not be recognised by his own country.”
Samsodien Parker says: “This would have been a great honour for Wayde, he did his country proud.”
An angry Bronwyn Gonzales says: “This is a shock to us all and a smack in the face of Wayde.”