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September 25, 2015

Sub-Saharan Africa: Durban First African City to Host the Commonwealth Games

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In their 85-year history, the Commonwealth Games have never set foot in Africa. That’s all about to change in 2022, when Durban hosts the event for the first time. The city was named the official host city in early September, making it the first city on the continent to stage the spectacular sporting event.

Commonwealth Games 

Canadian city and previous hosts Edmonton withdrew from the 2022 race last February citing cost concerns, leaving Durban as the only – and considerably happy – contender. Visits to the city convinced representatives of the 71 members of the Commonwealth family that Durban would be an excellent choice. 

“It is our recommendation that the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) votes to award the 2022 Games to Durban,” said newly elected CGF President Louise Martin. “A historic decision for all of us and one that my commission completely endorses,” she said.
The games’ slogan is ‘Ready to Inspire’, and organisers have reported that 90 percent of the facilities are already in place, with most of them within 2km of the city centre. The event is set to be a game changer, and is expected to boost tourism and jobs in the Indian Ocean city. 

South Africa has successfully hosted three of the biggest single-sport events – the cricket, rugby union and football World Cups – and, according to Gideon Sam, national olympic boss, a multi-sport event is the natural next step. “We have done exhaustive research, and the opinion of my colleagues and myself is that we are ready to stage an event like the Commonwealth Games. Playing host to the athletes of the Commonwealth will be a huge step forward in the sporting history of South Africa and Africa,” he told AFP. “We intend following the example set by London for the 2012 Olympic Games and using exhibition centres for the indoor sports.” 

Official say that only an athletes’ village and a shooting range still need to be built, and an athletics track installed at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. Some are concerns the costs will further strain the local economy, but Durban bid chairperson and SA Rugby Union VP Mark Alexander predicts a handsome profit. “We have budgeted R6.4-billion ($461,469,184 converted at .072 US Dollar exchange rate) to host the Games and expect a profit of more than that figure,” he said, “The economic impact of the (New Zealand) All Blacks playing one Test in Johannesburg is R400-million ($28,851,496) in one week. So imagine what a seven-year process will bring in with various teams coming ahead of the Games to prepare.”

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