By David Owen

Moses_Mabhida_Stadium_with_view_of_coast_DurbanAugust 14 - The South African Government is still mulling entering the race for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics with less than three weeks to go before the deadline for submitting applications.

Contacted this weekend, Gideon Sam, President of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) told insidethegames that the matter was "all in the hands of the Mnister" who was "keeping it very close to his chest".

"We will just have to hang in there and see what comes up," Sam said.

Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula is widely seen as a rising star of South African politics, though Sam dismissed as "just rumours" recent suggestions that he was about to be reshuffled to a different portfolio.

If there is a South African bid for 2020, it would come from the coastal city of Durban, which recently staged the 123rd International Olympic Committee Session that saw Pyeongchang in South Korea chosen as host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

This was attended by Jacob Zuma, the country's President, who raised hopes that Durban would bid for the Games when he told the event's Opening Ceremony that last year's FIFA World Cup, staged in South Africa, had "brought lasting benefits to our country and continent".

Recent months have seen much debate in the country over whether the tournament produced anything of enduring value for ordinary South Africans.

Moreover, some harbour doubts about whether elements of Durban's general infrastructure could be upgraded in time, although the city's sporting infrastructure is acknowledged to be first-rate.

The Government will have to make its mind up soon, with the deadline for 2020 bids falling on September 1.

So far Istanbul, Madrid, Rome and Tokyo have emerged as definite runners, with Doha, like Durban, seen as a possible candidate.

Unusually, the United States is expected to sit out the race, unless a deal on revenue-sharing can be thrashed out with the IOC this month.

The host city will be chosen by the IOC at its Session in Buenos Aires in September 2013.

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