South Africa goes for Olympic gold.

Author:Nevin, Tom
Position:Cape Town's bid for the 2004 Olympics - Cover Story

In September this year, the International Olympic Committee will decide who will host the 2004 Olympic Games. History will be made if Cape Town, one of the strongest contenders, wins the award. The implications for both South Africa and Africa as a whole are enormous. But not everyone in South Africa is cheering for victory. TOM NEVIN presents this exclusive report.

If Cape Town wins the bid to become the first African city to host the Olympic Games, the eternal flame will journey across 30 African states to what was Nelson Mandela's prison home for 21 years, Robben Island. Here, it will burn during the Games in 2004 thereby marking the symbolism of the Olympic emblem's fifth ring, the African continent.

If sentiment holds any influence in the final award, recent events should see Cape Town walk away with gold. President Mandela's charisma was at its best when he met with members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Cape Town, to evaluate the city as an Olympic venue.

"May I remind you," he remarked, "that I do have experience in running such games. The Robben Island summer games were always very successful. The grounds were a bit poor and the athletes' village was below Olympic standards but the 2004 Games will be very different. South Africa and her brothers and sisters across the continent are ready for the challenge. Today we wish to say to you, as directly as we can: Give us these games, we are ready for them."

The evaluation committee will have its work cut out for the next eight months. It has spent the last three travelling the world, inspecting the bids of 11 candidate cities which are vying for the 2004 Games. The contestants are Cape Town, Athens, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Lille, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, San Juan, (Puerto Rico), Seville, St Petersburg and Stockholm.

On 7 March this year, the Selection College of the IOC will choose four or five finalist cities to compete in the election process. From March to September this year, IOC members will visit the final bidders for a last inspection before the final secret vote, on 7 September, to determine the overall winner. As Chairman of the IOC evaluation commission, Dr Thomas Bach explains, "Applying to host the Games means taking part in the toughest competition that the Olympic movement can offer." Cape Town is indeed, fast finding this to be the case.

The Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid - Bidco - was created and mandated to operate until September this year when the IOC announces the successful candidate. To get that far the Cape Town committee has a budget of R86m. This breaks down into: Salaries (R14m), technical teams (R9m), marketing (R25m), travel (R15m), administration (R15m) and development and sports events (R8m).

On paper, Cape Town's hosting of the Games will bring in a...

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