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Door not shut on South African 2020 Olympic bid

By Jason Humphries

DURBAN (Reuters) - "All doors are still open" as regards a possible South African bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics, the country's sports minister Fikile Mbalula said on Wednesday.

After the successful hosting of the 2010 football World Cup it was widely expected that South Africa would enter the race to stage the 2020 Games.

However, the South African government in May quashed the idea by announcing that it would not support an Olympic bid, preferring instead to concentrate on "the delivery of basic services to all South Africans."

But Mbalula said that growing support, both domestically and internationally, meant South Africa could still consider a bid for either the 2020 or 2024 Summer Games.

"We are not closing any doors, all doors are open," Mbalula told reporters in Durban where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is holding its 123rd Session which will culminate in the announcement of the winner of the 2018 Winter Olympic bid.

"The possibilities are there and from the sports ministry and the sports fraternity in South Africa, we have always said that we are quite keen to reopen talks on this matter noting that this is a decision of government," he said.

Mbalula did say that the South African government's original decision not to support an Olympic bid was "cogent and well considered" but that it was not necessarily "static."

"There is a will from some people who say that it would be good to have an African and South African bid for 2020. If that doesn't happen then 2024 is a possibility," said Mbalula.

Mbalula explained that South Africa has built up a lot of international "goodwill" which could stand the country in good stead if they decided to bid for the Olympics.

"(The South African) Government always considers the interest of the people first. And if the people themselves say it's beneficial to us and the world says 'come let's go' government will listen," Mbalula concluded.

Rome is the only city which has formally announced its intention to bid for the 2020 Games. Potential host cities have until September to lodge applications to bid for the 2020 and 2024 Games.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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