South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has said that Durban may have to forfeit its hosting rights to the 2022 Commonwealth Games due to the high cost of staging the multi-sport event.
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) awarded the Games to Durban after a unanimous vote in September 2015. The South African city had been the sole bidder since February of the same year following the decision by Edmonton in Canada to drop out of the race over financial concerns.
In December, president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), Gideon Sam, said that his organisation had done all it could to ensure that Durban retained hosting rights, amidst concerns that it could lose the Games.
The CGF gave Durban a deadline of November 30 to meet series of conditions or risk losing hosting rights, although this deadline was extended after the city encountered various issues in preparations, including funding. At the time, officials in South Africa stated that they were “fully committed” to staging the event.
However, Mbalula (pictured) has now said Durban could relinquish its hosting rights over ongoing concerns regarding budget requirements, adding that the CGF, which is reportedly due to meet in the UK at the weekend to discuss the matter, will make a final decision soon.
“I don't want to raise your expectations and say everything looks good, it doesn’t because we don't agree on the fundamentals and that is the operational budget,” Mbalula said according to the Reuters news agency.
“We gave it our best shot but we can't go beyond, if the country says we don't have this money, we can't really,” adding that there is a “possibility that the Commonwealth Games will be out of the window”.
Should Durban 2022 go ahead, it would be the first time that the Commonwealth Games will have been staged in Africa.
SASCOC chairman Tubby Reddy told the TimesLive.co.za website: “The only thing I know is that we‚ together with government‚ needed to submit some outstanding documents by November 30‚ which we did‚ and that the CGF is due to give a decision on the 10th or 11th of March.”