STELLENBOSCH, South Africa (AP) — Before any Olympic bid, South Africa is focused on delivering an "affordable" first Commonwealth Games in Africa in 2022, officials say, as the former soccer World Cup host moves on to staging major multi-sports events.

While South Africa does have an ambition of eventually hosting the globe's biggest sports show, a bid for the 2024 Olympics is "unrealistic," according to the nation's sports minister.

Instead, South Africa will press ahead with Durban, the only candidate for the 2022 Commonwealths after Edmonton withdrew. Durban is expected to be formally announced as the host in September.

But, aware of the costs of staging another big sports event in a country with widespread poverty, Durban bid officials concentrated on affordability when they released more details of their plans this week.

"The bid team has always worked within the framework and objective of delivering an affordable games, and we have presented to national, provincial, and local government a budget that we believe meets the criteria," the Durban bid committee said.

Durban, a 2010 World Cup host city, needs around $508 million to finance the Commonwealth Games, the bid committee said. Around $127 million of that will come from the government's housing department to build the athletes' village, which would become public housing after the games. About $85 million will be provided by South Africa's Olympic Committee, its commercial partners, and national lottery money.

That leaves Durban still needing an injection of nearly $300 million to stage the games — likely from national government.

To keep costs down, Durban will not build any new sports venues, the committee said, and will have the soccer World Cup's Moses Mabhida Stadium as the centerpiece of the games. The city's existing rugby and cricket stadiums, swimming arena, and university are potential venues, and Durban will build temporary structures to limit the construction costs.

That eliminates the possibility of any costly and underused stadiums following the event, a major criticism of the 2010 World Cup.

Importantly, the Commonwealth Games bid does have support from South Africa's government, which has not yet said if it backs a future Olympic bid.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula traveled with bid officials to present Durban's bid papers to the Commonwealth Games Federation in London on Monday, and another senior government minister said this week the games could provide a financial boost for the nation.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said there could be a $1.7 billion boost to South Africa's economy from the Commonwealth Games, which he predicted should create nearly 12,000 jobs — an important consideration for a country with high rates of unemployment.

A new public transport system would also be developed in Durban alongside the games.

The process appears clear for South Africa: Use the Commonwealth Games to gauge the feasibility of bringing the much bigger, much more expensive Olympics to Africa for the first time.

Because of the focus on 2022, an Olympic bid will likely not be in 2024, and maybe not even in 2028. The host of the 2028 Summer Games will be chosen in 2021, when South Africa will likely be firmly focused on putting the finishing touches to Africa's first international multi-sports event.

"From where I'm standing, it's totally unrealistic to host (the Olympics) in 2024 immediately after hosting (the Commonwealth Games in) 2022," said Mbalula, who does support a future Olympic bid. "It involves a lot of preparations for that. South Africa will raise their hand in the future about hosting the Olympics."


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