South Africa would host a memorable, incident-free 2010 FIFA World Cup with all major infrastructure for the event having been completed on time, Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile said on Friday.
Speaking following the monthly meeting of the 2010 Interministerial Committee (IMC), in Pretoria, Stofile told journalists that all the stadiums for the event had been completed and that it was “all systems go”.
With only 125 days to go until the start of the international sporting event on June 11, the Minister noted that the power generators to be installed at each stadium, as part of FIFA’s demand for independent back-up power supply at the facilities, had been procured. These still had to be installed, however, and training still had to be provided to their operators.
Further, he noted that all the upgrades at the country’s major airports had been completed, with transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele adding that the first flight to the new King Shaka International Airport, near La Mercy, in KwaZulu-Natal, would be undertaken on May 2, well in advance of the kickoff of the world cup in June.
GAUTRAIN IN THE MIX
Ndebele noted that it has also been confirmed that the first phase of the Gautrain, between the OR Tambo International Airport and Sandton, would be completed before the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in June.
The security plan for the event had also been complete and Stofile offered an assurance that tourists and locals would be able to enjoy a safe and secure tournament.
He noted that while government was concerned with recent media reports regarding security, it was certain these reports would be proven to be “hogwash”.
The Minister noted that the country has been facing negative media attention since 2002, when reports suggested that the stadiums would not be finished in time and that the country would run out of funds before the infrastructure was completed. He emphasised, however, that these reports had been inaccurate.
Further, he noted that many South Africans, as well as many other African leaders, were confident of the success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
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But government argued that it was “morally incorrect” for airlines to participate in fixing prices for the World Cup event.
He noted that the Competition Commission was still investigating alleged collusion between airlines, and that there had been no verification yet as to whether there had indeed been a collusive attempt to raise prices.
However, he urged airlines not to “milk” the country’s citizens or tourists during the event.
He also urged other businesses, such as those in the hospitality industry, not to charge exorbitant prices during the event, as tourists would then not want to return for future visits. This would, in turn, would negatively impact on the country’s tourism prospects.
Edited by: Mariaan Webb
Creamer Media Senior Researcher and Deputy Editor Online
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