Wednesday, June 10, 2009

World Cup Organizers Optimistic One Year Ahead of Cup


We're one year away, folks!

One year until the opening of the world's biggest sporting event - the 2010 World Cup!

I'm excited! And so are the South African organizers, who are confident everything in South Africa will be ready on time.

Danny Jordaan, head of the South African Organizing Committee, even promised visiting fans will be embraced, not mugged, when they show up! I wouldn't mind that ...

"As things stand at the moment, we are very confident," said Jordaan, adding that some manufacturing unrest could still hamper progress. "It is not a straight line. It is a roller coaster."

Still, considering years of criticism that South Africa would not be able to pull off hosting the world's biggest sporting event and after calls for FIFA to come up with Plan B for 2010, Jordaan claimed a partial victory with the opening of the new stadium in Port Elizabeth, the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

"It was completed more than 12 months before the World Cup starts," said Jordaan, calling it unprecedented.

For this month's Confederations Cup, a dry run for the World Cup, FIFA is using four World Cup stadiums which needed little upgrading.

Much international concern has centered on security. Jordaan sought to allay fears.

He pointed to the organization of the Twenty20 Indian Premier League tournament at short notice, which ended without any security incidents.

"This country has the capacity to safeguard events like no other country," he said, adding that South Africa had already organized 146 major events without a hitch. MY POV: 146?

Even if stadiums and teams can be easily secured, many fear fans from across the world will run into trouble.

South Africa has among the highest murder and rape rates in the world and has gained an international reputation as a violent country.

The government and local organizers are hoping to alleviate people's fears ahead of next year's Cup.

"We don't want you to have an experience in this country of fear and anxiety," Jordaan said. "You will find people warm and embracing.

"You should not be any more worried than when you walk in Atlanta or Toronto or any other city of the world."

MY POV: Jordaan is certainly optimistic. There's just no way of knowing if what he says is true until next year's Cup. The proof will be in the pudding, as they say.

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