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Africa

African hopes of hosting the Olympics

The London Olympics are over and future host nations are already busy preparing for their weeks in the spotlight. In some African countries there's a growing feeling that it's time for them to stage the Games.

As London basks in the praise for its organization and presentation of the 2012 Summer Olympics, preparations are now under way for 2016 in Rio de Janiero. Meanwhile some African countries now believe that the time when the Games will be staged on their continent may not be that far off.

Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba waves after winning the women's 10,000m final at the London Olympics (Photo Reuters)

Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba was one of the few African winners in London

Among the many sports officials who made the trip to London, it seems there were few who could resist dreaming the Olympic dream. For example, Gideon Sam, president of the South African Sports Federation and Olympics Committee (SASCOC).

"You know when you walk around the streets of London and you look at what they have been able to achieve, it should be mouthwatering for any leader to say 'Boy! Why can't we do this?'"

But Sam's dreaming seems to stop when he looks at his own country. "We missed 2020 and 2024 is not in our sights. So it is up to Egypt, Nigeria and Kenya to put up their hand."

Kenya appears to be doing just that. While in London, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Nairobi planned to put in a bid to host the 2024 Olympic games. Peninah Kabenge, the secretary general of the Uganda Olympics Committee is also full of optimism. "I believe Africa is a rich continent. It is all about strategic planning. We can do it," she said.

Setting priorities

Others are less euphoric, at least as far staging the games in the short or medium term is concerned. Admire Masenda is the president of Zimbabwe's National Olympic Committee. In his opinion, the prospect of Africa hosting the Games is still a long way off, not least because of the financial aspect. The bill for the UK is put at around $14.5 billion (11.7 bn euros, 9 bn pounds sterling)

"I'm not so sure there is an African nation or city that would be able to manage this kind of budget at the present moment. Maybe in the next three or four Olympics. It's some way away."

An African child in the desert. (Photo:Rebecca Blackwell/AP/dapd)

Providing food and education should be Africa's top priority, critics say

Even more down to earth is Alassane Thiernio Diack, an Olympics official from Senegal. He says quite bluntly that Africa has other priorities.

"The first thing to be done in Africa is to make sure that people are eating well and we have facilities for people to go to school, basic things that need to be provided first to the population. Hosting the games is a minimum of ten billion pounds!"

London is not only inspiring people to dream but also to work out how much the African Olympic dream would cost in reality and whether it could bring lasting benefits.

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