By Duncan Mackay

Fikile_Mbalula_head_and_shouldersAugust 17 - South Africa's Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula today announced that they will not launch a bid for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

In May South Africa's Cabinet decided it would not bid for the Games as South Africa has more pressing national social welfare priorities.

But Mbalula had maintained that the bidding process for the Games was still "quite open".

He had claimed he would lobby to change Government's mind before the International Olympic Committee (IOC deadline to submit applications closed on September 1.

His case appear to have been strengthened after Durban last month successfully hosted the IOC Session, which was attended by President Jacques Rogge. Durban had been keen to bid and were expected to be the South African candidate if they bid.

But Department of Sport and Recreation spokesman Paena Galane said today Mbalula had now decided against asking the Government to reconsider.

"We are not going to resubmit the request to bid to Cabinet," Galane said.

"There will be no bid from South Africa for the 2020 Olympics.

"After careful consideration, the [Sports] Minister has decided to respect the Cabinet decision."

Mbalula said the Sports Ministry will focus on the 2024 Olympic bid and the 2022 Commonwealth Games instead.

Sam Ramsamy, the South African who is a member of the ruling IOC Executive Board, admitted he was disappointed that the country was not going to try to capitalise on the success of last year's FIFA World Cup with a bid for the Olympics and Paralympics. 

"We are disappointed but we understand the complexities of the issues," Ramsamy told the Associated Press.

"We will certainly go for 2024.

"We will engage Government and even though there is nothing official yet [for 2024], the indication is that the Government will be favourable to a bid."

South Africa's decision leaves Istanbul, Madrid, Rome and Tokyo as the confirmed bidders with Doha still deciding whether or not to bid.

They are expected to announce their decision next week. 

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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