The city of Johannesburg hosted the third Imbizo event for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africaâ„¢ yesterday. The Imbizo, which means ‘a gathering’ in Zulu, allows Host Cities to address their citizens and the media on the progress of the competition.

The Imbizo in Johannesburg was the biggest to date, with over 500 guests. “The 2010 FIFA World Cup needs to guarantee the improvement of life for people living in Johannesburg,” said Amos Masondo, the Executive Mayor of the city.

Soccer City is 55 per cent complete, while Ellis Park, only needing minor alterations, is 35 per cent complete. Soccer City also celebrated one million hours of injury-free work on its construction site.

In addition to Soccer City and Ellis Park, Johannesburg is also investing in three more stadiums: Orlando Stadium, Dobsonville Stadium and Rand Stadium. Orlando Stadium, which is an iconic venue for Soweto, was demolished and its rebuilding process is currently 94 per cent complete.

In addition to the stadium upgrades, Masondo also announced that they would be building a theatre and an indoor, Olympic-sized swimming pool in Soweto. The city is also planting 200,000 trees in the area, and rehabilitating the Klipspruit River which runs through Soweto. Joburg will be the first Host City to implement a Bus Rapid Transit system named ‘Rea Vaya’ (We Are Going). The project will have 158 stations and over 122 kilometres of bus lanes.

Stephen Watson, the LOC’s tournament director for the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009, was part of the panel at the Imbizo. He said that Johannesburg was a key component to the success of the tournament as they would be hosting the opening and closing ceremonies, along with matches.

He also stressed that while the FIFA Confederations Cup is a test event for its bigger brother, the FIFA World Cup, it is by no means a small tournament. “The FIFA Confederations Cup is not a test event in that it is something we can fail at. It is more to refine the processes, procedures and plans we have in place. Ke Nako – it is our time.”

Other speakers included the LOC’s Security Chief Officer Linda Mti, Transport and Logistics Chief Officer Skhumbuzo Macazoma, and Football Ambassadors Doctor Khumalo and Mark Fish.

The Head of FIFA’s Corporate Social Responsibility, Federico Addiechi, was also on hand to discuss the Football For Hope movement. He said South Africa 2010 provided the perfect time to “link the FIFA World Cup to a social cause”.

DATED: 22nd August 2008