Address by President Nelson Mandela to the IOC Evaluation Commission

7 December 1996

Chairman and our guest from the IOC;
Minister of Sports and Recreation;
Archbishop Desmond Tutu;
Chief Executive Officer of the Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid;
President of NOCSA
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen;
Welcome to South Africa and to our wonderful city of Cape Town!

This city grew close to my heart in the 27 years that it hosted me and my colleagues. During the long years on Robben Island - which I believe you visited yesterday - we would look at this beautiful mountain and the city at its feet, wondering what Cape Town might come to mean to us and our people when our nation had achieved democracy.

Today we have at least part of the answer - and a very important one at that.

You are here to consider whether Cape Town should be awarded the 2004 Olympic Games. I and my colleagues are here to show just how determined we are to win this Bid, and how serious our government is about it.

Government has already recorded our absolute guarantee of the financial viability of these Games. But today we wish to say to you, as directly as we can: Give us these Games. We are ready for them. They will be good for us. They will be good for Africa. They will be good for the spirit of the Olympic Movement.

The Games will enormously enhance South Africa's interest and attraction throughout the world over the next ten years, ten years of vital importance for our future as we step out of the dark era of apartheid.

They will inject a major stimulus into our drive for growth in pursuit of reconstruction and development. They will be a source of confidence and unity for our people, further cementing the bonds of the new nation we are building.

The Games exemplify the power of sport to consolidate non-racial and international comradeship. It would be a jewel in the crown of our rainbow nation to host the 2004 Olympic Games.

We have no doubt that Cape Town is the right venue for the games. During your stay you will, ladies and gentlemen, sense the pride that South Africans feel in their achievements and their profound allegiance to our new democracy.

Such is the source of our confidence in tackling the problems that we do have and the challenges that we face. Whether it be sustained economic growth; tackling crime; or improving the lives of all our people, our society is mobilised around viable plans and programmes.

The question is sometimes raised as to whether 2004 is not too soon for Cape Town. South Africa is ready. Africa is ready.

There can be few undertakings as complex and detailed as the staging and management of the Olympic Games event. As a government we were careful to ensure that the task was one we could achieve before giving our guarantees. We knew how much was at stake, and we knew how success or failure would affect the world's attitudes towards ourselves and Africa.

I have been asked to make myself available as honorary president of the Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid. I accept the nomination with great pleasure and I shall be taking an active interest in its progress, now and as we move closer to 2004. I will ensure that I have the time to keep a watchful eye on these young people with all their hope and enthusiasm and energy.

In closing, may I remind you that I do have experience in running such Games. The Robben Island Summer Games were always very successful. But the grounds were a bit poor, and the Athletes' Village was below Olympic standards.

The 2004 Games will be very different. South Africa and her brothers and sisters across the continent are ready for the challenge.

I thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation