Winter Olympics: Samaranch backs Games in S Africa

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The Independent Online
South Africa were yesterday given the strongest hint that they will be the county to bring the Olympics to Africa for the first time.

The endorsement of the Rainbow Nation came from the highest source. Juan Antonio Samaranch, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said that he hoped the Olympic Games will go to South Africa in 2008.

Cape Town was among the bidding cities for the 2004 Games, which were awarded to Athens last September. The venue for the 2008 Games will be selected in 2001.

"One continent is missing," Samaranch said in Nagano. "We hope in 2008 there will come other candidates from Africa. We hope very much we can hold the Games one day on this continent."

Other South African cities, including Pretoria and Johannesburg, are considered potential bidders.

"I'm not speaking only of Cape Town," Samaranch said. "It's up to their national Olympic committee to decide if other South African cities can bid for the games."

Osaka and Buenos Aires are the only declared candidates so far for 2008, although Paris is considering a bid.

Samaranch's comments came in response to a question from a Chinese television reporter, who asked whether the Games would go to another continent after Europe in 2004.

Peking was a narrow loser to Sydney in the race for the 2000 Games and China - notwithstanding the damage caused by recent doping scandals at swimming's World Championships - is considering a 2008 bid which could centre on Canton or Shanghai.