Commonwealth Games officials visit Durban soon after attacks
DURBAN, South Africa (AP) A Commonwealth Games evaluation team began a four-day visit of 2022 host candidate Durban on Monday, weeks after attacks on immigrants in the South African city left six people dead.
Durban is the only city left bidding for the 2022 Games and hopes to be confirmed at the Commonwealth Games Federation's general assembly meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, on Sept. 2.
The visit of the five-person evaluation team comes soon after a spate of attacks on foreigners in South Africa earlier this month, which began in the Durban area and spread to Johannesburg. Seven people in total have died.
The CGF said Monday its evaluation team - led by CGF honorary secretary Louise Martin - would concentrate on ''technical aspects'' of Durban's bid.
The east coast city, a former 2010 World Cup venue, is hoping to be the first African host of a major multi-sport event. Its bid is expected to be rubber-stamped after opponent Edmonton, Canada, withdrew from the race.
''As a Commonwealth sports movement, we cannot fail to be excited by the prospect of a first Commonwealth Games in Africa,'' Martin said in a statement from the CGF.
Durban has also been touted as a possible future candidate to host the Olympics.
Durban's 2022 Commonwealth bid team has evoked South Africa's relatively smooth transition from a troubled past to democracy as part of its campaign, proposing the games' opening ceremony be on July 18, the birthday of the late anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.
The CGF bid team began its visit on Freedom Day, the anniversary of the first democratic elections in South Africa that installed Mandela as president 21 years ago.
But the violence in Durban this month tarnished the city's image and was condemned by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, which is overseeing the Durban bid.
The attacks have subsided.
The Commonwealth evaluation team will meet government and city officials and visit competition and non-competition venues this week, the CGF said, before compiling a report.
That report will be presented to the 71 Commonwealth Games member countries and territories at least a month before they vote on Durban's bid at the general assembly.