Durban’s Commonwealth Games in doubt, S Africa admits


South Africa sports minister Fikile Mbalula denied on February 20, 2017 a Confederation of African Football statement ...
South Africa sports minister Fikile Mbalula denied on February 20, 2017 a Confederation of African Football statement that President Jacob Zuma was backing incumbent Issa Hayatou in the CAF leadership race. PHOTO/DAVID HARRISON / AFP

South Africa’s sports minister Fikile Mbalula said on Tuesday that host city Durban may not be able to hold the 2022 Commonwealth Games due to financial pressures.

“I don’t want to raise your expectations and say everything looks good‚ it doesn’t. We are unable to agree on the fundamentals,” Mbalula told South African media at a press conference in Cape Town.

Despite successfully bidding for the Games, South Africa has been unable to come to agreement with the Commonwealth Games Federation over paying for the tournament.

“It does not look like we will find each other,” said Mbalula, who added that a final decision was expected from the federation when it meets shortly.

“We have given it our best shot, but we cannot live beyond our means,” he said. “There is a possibility that it might not come in our direction at the end of the day.”

A spokesman for the ministry confirmed to AFP that South Africa would not host the Games at any cost, adding that he hoped an agreement would be reached by the end of March.

Both the 1995 rugby World Cup and the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa are seen as milestones in the country’s efforts to promote national unity since the apartheid era.

The Commonwealth Games in Durban, on the east coast, would be the first to be held in Africa.

The Games — which were awarded to Durban in 2015 — had been earmarked to start on July 18, the late Nelson Mandela’s birthday.

According to authorities, a budget of 6.4 billion rand ($492 million, 465 million euros) has already been set aside for the Games, in a country battling high unemployment and poor growth.

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Story By AFP
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