March 17 - Jacques Rogge, the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has been urged to offer as much support to a bid from Africa for the Olympics as Sepp Blatter gave to the continent's staging of the World Cup in South Africa last year.
The success of the tournament won by Spain has raised hopes that an African city will soon be able to successfuly bid to host the Olympcis and Paralympics, with Durban emerging as a serious candidate to put itself forward for the 2020 Games.
The subject was top of the agenda at the Africa International Sports Convention (CISA) which opened here today, an event attended by several IOC members and high-powered delegations from the three cities bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
South Africa's Sam Ramsamy, a member of the IOC's ruling Executive Board, was confident that there will be an African bidder for 2020 with Durban, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth all having put themselves forward.
"We presented the bids by the three·cities·to the [South African] Government and we are awaiting the decision on which one of the trio will succeed," he said.
"The outcome·is expected·next month and Africa is definitely in the race for 2020."
Ramsamy claimed that when an African city did put itself forward then the whole continent would unite behind it.
"We will get one city to bid from Africa and the good thing is that in Africa we have unity when it comes to matters of international contests," he said.
Ramsamy was the leading figure on a panel discussing "The Road to 2020:Is Africa ready to host the Olympics?"
"Alexandria has in the past presented three bids for the Olympics, Cape Town did in 2004 and Cairo in 2008," he said.
"So why this impertinent, arrogant question all the time?
"The question is when and where and not whether Africa is ready!"
Confidence that Africa is capable of hosting the Olympics and Paralympics has risen significantly following last year's World Cup in South Africa, where was among the best organised tournaments ever and passed off without any major problems, leading Rogge to encourage a city from that country to bid for the 2020 Games.
But Gambia's Abdoulie Touray (pictured), vice-president for Africa of the Commonwealth Games Federation, claimed that Rogge had to go further if a bid was to be successful and follow the lead of Blatter.
The FIFA President consistently backed South Africa's campaign to host the World Cup and refused to criticise them when they suffered problems.
"Jacques Rogge needs to come out and make a deliberate statement that Africa does have world-class facilities and can host the Olympic Games," Touray said.
"He needs to do for Africa what Sepp Blatter did."
There was backing for an African bid from Sergey Bubka, the world pole vault record holder who is now a member of the IOC and a senior vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
But he urged the continent to try to statge more major events, such as the IAAF World Championships.
"I agree that Africa deserves to host the Olympics but then African nations must strive to deliver strong bids that can meet the prerequisite conditions," he said.
"Africa needs to host many more major championships to gain experience and confidence for the Olympics.
"But the Governments too must show goodwill and commit to supporting bids and more importantly invest financial resources."
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
February 2011: Cape Town pull out of race to bid for 2020 Olympics
February 2011: South Africa must decide on candidate for 2020 Olympics says Sports Minister
January 2011: IOC announce timetable for 2020 Olympic bids
December 2010: Rogge tells South Africa it is now in "top league" of organisers
September 2010: Cape Town wants chance to bid for 2020 Olympics