• Ambassador, Embassy of South AfricaTokyo


was disappointed to read The Observer article “Little feel-good for Africa’s World Cup,” published Feb. 12 on The Japan Times’ Focus page. The writer’s pessimistic and nit-picking assessment of the preparations for, and expectations of, the 2010 FIFA World Cup to be held in my country, South Africa, is certainly not shared by the majority of South Africans.

When South Africa was awarded the bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, there were celebrations throughout South Africa and the African continent. As the host, South Africa stands ready, not as a country alone but rather as a representative of Africa, to host an amazing and successful World Cup in 2010. The facts are:

The Organizing Committee (O.C.) and tens of thousands of people have been tirelessly working on transforming South Africa into a stage for great international sporting spectacles.

• South Africa will host the FIFA Confederations Cup, a curtain-raiser for the World Cup later this year. The overwhelming enthusiasm for the World Cup is evident in the more than 40,000 people who have applied to volunteer for the Confederations Cup — 10 times the number required.

• One
just has to look at the stadiums that are transforming our city skylines, see the transport projects that have turned host cities into construction sites, or visit South Africa’s big airports to realize that South Africa is well on track to deliver.

• Security remains a high priority of both the government and the O.C.. Both are working closely with experts from around the world to ensure that all visitors have a pleasant stay.

• Virtually all projects are completed or nearing completion — from stadiums, transport infrastructure, security measures and accommodations to health and immigration plans — confirming the confidence of FIFA and the global soccer fraternity that ours will truly be a successful tournament.

The true legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be our ability to showcase South African and African capabilities, hospitality and humanity — to change, once and for all, perceptions of our country and our continent among nations of the world.

South Africa wishes the Japan national soccer team every success in its campaign to qualify for this spectacular event.

gert j. grobler

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