Olympic chief makes South Africa stop
The International Olympic Committee President, Jacques Rogge received a warm welcome from the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, Dr Irvin Khoza, during his visit to SAFA House on Friday.
Khoza felt it important to welcome Rogge, saying “it is crucial that we acknowledge the visit of the President of the IOC, who with FIFA, ensured that there would be normal sport in South Africa.” Both the IOC and FIFA banned South Africa from participating in sport while the policies of segregation during the apartheid era were in place.
During his visit, Rogge was briefed on the progress of the Local Organising Committee in the preparation of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He seemed pleased with the progress and was unwavering in his commitment to the African continent, emphatically stating that he was “absolutely convinced that South Africa in particular and Africa general are capable of the hosting of a major sports event.”
The LOC have recently endured a period of criticism in the public arena. Rogge was sympathetic and remarked that this was normal for any organisation and that “the more you progress, the more you see the approval rates are augmenting.”
Sam Ramsamy, President of the National Olympic Committee of South Africa is pleased with the interest that the World Cup has generated in the country. He thought that overall, “people look at 2010 as a panacea for all issues - and to be viewed in this light is exceptionally positive.”
Rogge was visiting South Africa as part of a tour of the Southern African regions to launch IOC developmental projects. He has a similar philosophy to FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter regarding the important developmental role sport, and specifically football, can have in lives and development of children. On this, Rogge said that he was “a strong believer that sport is very important for education. Children learn respect for authority because you must respect the referee. It gives children hope and a sense of identity.”
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