Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ready Or Not: South Africa Prepares for 2010

An interesting article appeared in this Monday's New York Times about South Africa's preparations for the 2010 World Cup.

The article speak about the troubles the African nation is experiencing in getting itself ready for the world's biggest sporting competition.

The infrastructure of the country needs to be either built up or renovated (airports, stadiums, trains, etc.). Time is of the essence, as organizers race against the clock to get everything done. (Above, a sketch of Durban Stadium, one of the proposed sites of the 2010 World Cup)

Here's a small quote: 'A giant race is on to renovate airports, build a high-speed rail link from Johannesburg’s airport to the suburbs and erect or renovate stadiums here (in Johannesburg) and in eight other cities. Thousands of new police officers must be hired and trained; hundreds of buses purchased; an untold number of bed-and-breakfast inns rated and registered. It is at once nerve-racking and exhilarating, South Africa’s own slow-motion, nail-biting contest with itself.'

Any delay in getting the infrastructure ready could doom some of the projects. As the article says, the timetable for building some stadiums is so tight that even a three-week rain delay could wreak havoc.

Crime is also an issue. South Africa experiences close to 50 murders a day; some 700 assaults. Who is going to want to go there for a good time with this hanging over them? Police officers are being hired and trained at a startling clip. The article states that 11,000 new officers are being hired every year. The dedication is there.

South Africa needs to get this right, not just for the country. An entire continent's hopes rest on the effort and end result of World Cup 2010.

As Jofta Rishoto of Soweto said in the article, 'The World Cup is empowering our country, our people. You are going to see miracles.'

Let's hope so.

(To the left, a jubilant Nelson Mandela with the World Cup trophy. I love how happy he looks!)

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