Today marks exactly two years to the kick-off of the biggest soccer event to be held on African soil - the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Speaking at SAFA House in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) Danny Jordaan related the tangible benefits the country will derive from the world cup.
The budget for the world cup is R630 billion, with R9.8 billion allocated toward stadium construction, and R13.6 billion toward transport infrastructure, said Dr Jordaan, adding that the majority of funds was being spent on infrastructure that would benefit South Africa long after the tournament.
The 10 stadia around South Africa are well on their way to becoming some of the best stadiums in the world.
He said from the very top of Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, a person can see Robben Island, almost the entire Cape coast line, and of course, Table Mountain.
The Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth has been given the March 2009 deadline for readiness ahead of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.
This stadium and the flagship stadium Soccer City in Johannesburg are both busy having seats installed.
Dr Jordaan told reporters the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) is also on track and will house an amazing 20 000 journalists throughout the tournament.
Nationwide there are currently 30 000 contracted rooms available for the world cup, but are still 15 000 short of the FIFA required 45 000.
This is where the so-called non-hotels come in. The lodges and resorts will provide the further contract room requirements with many of the lodges being situated within the South African National Parks (SANParks) themselves, said Dr Jordaan.
A group wanting to watch matches at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit can stay in the Kruger National Park and travel to the stadium.
Much emphasis is being placed on giving the average South African the opportunity to enjoy the tournament as much as the person who wants to go watch the match live, and therefore the FIFA FanParks and public viewing areas will play a crucial role.
"In the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, there were about 21 million people who watched the soccer in the FanParks, and only three million who were able to watch in the stadiums.
"The FanParks are going to be a vital platform on which South Africans will be able to access the world cup," he said.
SAFA is aiming for an international viewership of about four billion cumulatively throughout the tournament; this number will certainly grow if China qualifies for the world cup.
"With a population of 1.3 billion we are really hopeful that they qualify even though they are in a tough group with Australia and Iraq," he said.
As part of celebrations marking the two year mark to kick-off, the Medical Advisory Team for the 2009 and 2010 tournaments was also announced.
Chairperson of the Medical Advisory Team Prof Martin Schwellnus said: "This is an opportunity for us to showcase sports and exercise medicine to the world.
"Our primary function will be to back up and be the assistance to Dr Victor Ramathesele during the world cup.
"Our pre-tournament activities will include, the establishment of medical care; the establishment of fair game which includes instituting anti-doping controls, and also the leaving behind of a medical legacy.
"We would like to leave behind more doctors, more nurses, more emergency personnel and create more interest in sports and medical care," said Prof Schwellnus.
LOC Medical Venue Officers include:
* Johannesburg - Prof Efraim Kramer and Dr Demetri Constantinou
* Cape Town - Prof Wayne Derman
* Tshwane - Dr Christa Janse Van Rensburg
* Mangaung - Dr Louis Holtzhausen
* Mbombela/Nelspruit - Dr Maki Ramagole
* Rustenburg - Dr Mmuso Ramatsi
* Durban - Dr Mzukisi Grootboom
* Polokwane - Dr Eric Neluheni
* Port Elizabeth - Dr Mthunzi Ngcelwane
The above mentioned doctors will be providing the necessary assistance to the FIFA appointed medical officers at the various venues. - BuaNews