On 13 March, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) announced that Durban will in all likelihood no longer host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The President of the Federation, Louise Martin, after conducting a review of South Africa’s current preparation for the games, said that they were now “exploring alternative options, including a potential replacement host”.
This decision comes after months of speculation about South Africa’s ability to host the Games after Government missed various deadlines and financial obligations. In an official statement released by the CGF, they claim that South Africa has not been able to fulfil its commitments made in their bid in areas such as governance, venues, funding, and risk management.
Durban won the right to host the Games back in September 2015, after spending R118 million on the bidding process. Although the proposed cost of the Games was around R8 billion, the estimated GDP growth amounted to approximately R11 billion. Official research done by the South African Government estimated that around 1 000 full-time jobs would have been created through organising the games while another 2 700 jobs would have been created indirectly.
Besides the economic benefits, many young athletes would have benefited from the investment in infrastructure that would have been created through legacy programmes. According to the Durban 2022 official website (durban-2022.com), the revenue from the Games would have been used to develop sporting infrastructure and support local clubs in rural areas. Furthermore, the revenue would also have been used to deploy homegrown coaches and retired players under the age of 35 to informal areas in order to develop various sporting codes around the country.
UP 100 m hurdler Rikenette Steenkamp told Perdeby that hosting the Games would have been great for sport development in the country as more athletes would have been given the opportunity to compete. She also said that athletes will be affected in terms of traveling and team selection, as she believes that the money lost from the bid will affect the budget.
In addition, the Times reported in the article “The cost of Durban losing the Commonwealth Games” that the Games would have also shone a light on lesser known sports in South Africa, such as boxing, where Bongani Mwelase still holds the country’s only Commonwealth gold medal, which he won in 2006.
Speaking to Perdeby, Danie Cornelius, the head of the Athletics programme at UP, said that he was disappointed by the news as it is very seldom that South African athletes are able to compete against the world’s best in front of their home crowd. He said that although he understands that financially the Games would have been impossible, it is still a disaster for young up-and-coming athletes who had hoped to “shine on home soil”.