There is no denying that things haven’t been completely smooth for South Africa during the lead up to the 2010 World Cup. This is pretty standard when it comes to huge event planning, for example Beijing experienced dilemmas in their Olympic preparation, and London has been scrutinized for their 2012 Olympic Games preparation.
Fears that some of the 450,000 foreign expected visitors might be mugged or, worse, killed, in a country where some 50 people a day are murdered topped a worry list that also included finishing stadiums, accommodating fans and travel between games and host cities.
South Africa is even reportedly holding talks with neighboring countries to help out with accommodation but again, logistics would still be a problem that would need addressing if this were to happen.
FIFA’s Plan B and World Cup Preparation
As recently as 2007, a backup plan was being discussed which included the option of hosting the 2010 world football cup in Australia. Australia put on a nearly flawless Olympics in Sydney in 2000, and were seen as capable hosts.
While the whispers of a change in venue have faded, many of FIFA’s worries remain. Stadium development, a long-time issue looks to be slowly getting resolved with four stadium upgrades completed and a new stadium to be finished this month.
Progress on transportation projects has not been as encouraging. The Gautrain initiative which would link Johannesburg with the city’s international airport and neighbouring Pretoria will be only partly completed by the time the World Cup starts, and rapid-bus systems in host cities have fallen way behind schedule.
“Transport is what I’m most concerned about,” Helen Zille, premier of the Western Cape and leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, told Newsweek. “But we are on deadline and are meeting our milestones.” Zille may have reason to worry. Recently, striking taxi drivers threatened to disrupt the World Cup and, “turn Cape Town into another Baghdad.”
The crime rate in South Africa remains one of the highest in the world and for this reason it still has many tourists worried. Locals are also worried with 58% of those recently surveyed agreeing that safety will be a concern.
FIFA Supporting South Africa
South Africa’s ability to host the 2010 World Cup was given approval by FIFA President Sepp Blatter after the country successfully hosted the 2010 test event, the 2009 Confederations Cup.
The Confederations Cup was a tremendous success. “There have been problems but as this is a test event the Local Organizing Committee will solve them. This augers well for 2010,” Blatter said.
Billions of dollars have been spent improving security, transport and stadium upgrades/completions. Hopefully with this cash injection and with the successful Confederations Cup South, Africa will be able to put on a flawless World Cup 2010. At the very least, the South African government is showing that they are serious about making the event a success due to extravagant spending and addressing key areas of concern.
AUTHOR: L.R. Currell
DATED: 30th June 2009