Durban may have been the only candidate for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, but today’s historic announcement naming it the first African city ever to host the games set off celebrations in South Africa’s third-largest city, Mail&Guardian reported.
The games are expected to boost tourism and jobs in the Indian Ocean city of 3 million-plus people, where they’ve described as a “game-changer.”
Organizers said 90 percent of the sporting facilities are already in place, and most of them are within 2 kilometers of the city center.
The government estimates that hosting the games will deliver up to 20 billion rand ($1.49 billion) for the economy and another 11 billion rand in GDP growth, Reuters reports.
Crowds waved the South African flag and South African sports officials cheered and ululated as the official announcement was made in Auckland, New Zealand, at the 71-nation Commonwealth Games Federation’s general assembly.
The only other candidate for the games — Edmonton, Canada — withdrew in February, over cost concerns. The Commonwealth Games have been held four times in Canada.
The South African government said last week the Durban Games would keep costs down by using infrastructure from the 2010 football World Cup, including the 85,000-seat Moses Mabhida Stadium, Mail&Guardian reports.
It took 85 years for Africa to win the bid to host the games. Sports officials cited South Africa’s success in previously hosting the world’s three largest single-sport events – the football, cricket and rugby World Cups.
Held every four years, the multi-sport event was originally named the British Empire Games. Since 1930, it has been held six times in Britain, four each in Australia and Canada, three in New Zealand, and once in Jamaica, Malaysia and India.
The Commonwealth Games Federation expressed some concerns about possible funding shortfalls in Durban and about the approach organisers were taking to financing and developing venues, according to Reuters.
An athletes village is being built as part of a wider urban development project to address housing shortages in the Durban area. The federation wanted guarantees on the risk associated with the construction, Reuters reported.
Bid CEO Mark Alexander said the games had been factored into South Africa’s long-term infrastructure and social and economic development strategies and would serve as a catalyst for that spending.
Just to give you an idea of how the games can impact a city, here are a few statistics from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games:
– 1.2 million tickets sold.
– At least 300,000 visitors enjoyed the city’s sites.
– Nearly 700,000 people flocked to sport and culture venues in a single weekend.
– The Athletes’ Village, post-games, was expected to provide 700 permanent homes, including 400 for rent, and a new 120-bed care home for the elderly.
Organizers of the South African campaign bid demonstrated Durban’s readiness to host the games in the campaign bid video with the slogan “Ready to Inspire.” The video was shown to the Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly ahead of the Glasgow 2014 Games.
Nelson Mandela is featured in the video, saying, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to change people in a way that little else does.”
You can watch the video here.
The 12-day Durban Games will open on July 18, 2022, a national holiday observing the Mandela’s birthday. He died in 2013 at 95.
All 71 member territories from the Commonwealth of Nations are expected to compete in Durban 2022 — the 22nd edition of the Commonwealth Games.
Durban is home to major professional rugby union and cricket teams, and two association football teams. The city played host to matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the 1996 and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, the 1995 Rugby World Cup, as well as the 2003 Cricket World Cup.
Apart from many Olympic sports, the games also include some sports that are played predominantly in Commonwealth countries, such as lawn bowls and netball.
Athletes with disabilities were first included in exhibition events at the 1994 Commonwealth Games. At the 2002 games, they were included as full members of their national teams, making them the first fully inclusive international multi-sport games.