South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup has fast-tracked the delivery of infrastructure, says 2010 Local Organising Committee communications chief Rich Mkhondo.
“A lot of bricks and mortar [have been used] over the past five years. At the moment, there is a lot of pain because of the construction that is going on to upgrade our infrastructure so that, when the tournament begins, it [will be]smooth sailing,” Mkhondo says.
He adds that the country has built six new stadiums and refurbished four others, which were used for the Confederations Cup last year.
“There is nothing in the world like Soccer City stadium, in Johannesburg, Moses Mabhida stadium, in Durban, and Green Point stadium, in Cape Town. The Chinese talk about the Bird’s Nest national stadium, which is not near any of these three stadiums.”
“If Durban is successful in its bid for the 2020 Olympics, it can make use of some of the new stadiums. The people who are criticising the building of the stadiums are ill-informed – the stadiums will be used in the years to come and will not become white elephants. We are not like Japan, Korea and China, which depend on one sporting code. We have different sporting codes that will require the use of the stadiums.”
About 20 000 jobs were created during the construction of the stadiums. More jobs were created during road construction and the refurbishment of airports. Indirectly, the World Cup has created more than 415 000 jobs.
“We are proud of that. While the world is in recession, we have created so many jobs through the hosting of the World Cup. While infrastructure development was one aspect of hosting the World Cup, job creation was another,” says Mkhondo.
About 450 000 soccer fans are expected to descend on South Africa during the World Cup. These people, says Mkhondo, will talk about their experience in the country, and the knock-on effect will be more tourists. “By the end of the year, we expect that the country will receive ten-million visitors and we hope that, by 2014, we will have 14-million visitors a year.