Cape Town's Greenpoint Stadium at night. Photo: Mujahid Safodien

Cape Town -

Cape Town has asked South Africa's Olympic committee if it would consider a possible bid from the city to host the 2020 Olympics after it missed the original deadline.

The Olympic body SASCOC has said Cape Town missed the July 31 date to declare interest in bidding and announced Durban as the country's only candidate earlier this month.

But Cape Town, which mounted a failed bid for the 2004 Games, says it was not made aware of any deadline by SASCOC in a disagreement that threatens to undermine South Africa's attempt to bring the Olympics to Africa for the first time.

“The city has written to SASCOC to ask for the opportunity to consider a possible submission of a bid, and awaits SASCOC's response,” Cape Town spokesperson Pieter Cronje wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday. “We wrote to SASCOC on 16 September 2010 and sent a follow-up email today. To date we have not received a response.”

Earlier on Tuesday, SASCOC chief executive Tubby Reddy insisted the country's Olympic body had informed all four possible candidate cities, Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, of the cutoff date.

“The notion that SASCOC messed up Cape Town's Olympic bid is very far from the truth and in fact is rather an attempt from some to hide their own inefficiency,” Reddy said.

Cronje acknowledged Cape Town had received an invitation from SASCOC to bid in a letter dated July 15, but said the letter was just two paragraphs long and did not give details of the process to be followed.

“We don't deny receiving a letter,” Cronje said. “But it was open-ended. There was no outlining of the process, no format and, importantly, there was no deadline. The next thing we knew Durban had been announced as SACOC's choice.”

Representatives from Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth have reportedly said they were not invited to bid.

SASCOC maintains it sent letters to all four cities, which showed July 31 as the deadline for a bid submission, and says only Durban met the deadline. It says it only received a letter of intent from the Cape Town mayor's office last week.

“It is clear that SASCOC has followed due process in the bidding process and cannot be held accountable for any misunderstanding, especially on the part of the city of Cape Town,” Reddy said in Tuesday's statement.

Cape Town's second attempt to host the Olympic Games appeared to be doomed after SASCOC officially endorsed Durban as its candidate, but the city is now hoping for a second chance.

Cape Town lost out in the race to host the 2004 Olympic Games, finishing third in a vote behind winner Athens and Rome. The Italian capital is bidding for 2020.

Countries will be invited to formally submit bids to the International Olympic Committee after the IOC's next general assembly - in Durban - in July 2011. The 2020 host city will be selected by the IOC in 2013.

A South African candidate will have to be backed by the government. - Sapa-AP