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South African IOC official wants to honour Mandela with Olympics

South African Olympic Committee and International Olympic Committee executive committee member Sam Ramsamy has outlined his ambition to bring the Olympic Games to the country in the “very near future” so that he can fulfil one of Nelson Mandela’s last wishes.

South Africa has been in mourning for the former South African President, who died on Thursday at the age of 95. Mandela, who was a boxer in his youth, provided one of sport’s most iconic moments when he presented South Africa captain Francois Pienaar with the 1995 Rugby World Cup trophy – a tournament that the country hosted just five years after he was released from being a political prisoner.

Ramsamy said today that it “is a time to celebrate the achievements of Nelson Mandela”. He added to the Reuters news agency: “He (Mandela) always stated that sport is a uniting factor, it is a universal language, it is a non-verbal language. He always said sports can transmit to very many people which no politician can do. And that we will always remember.”

Ramsamy said: “Undoubtedly the (Fifa) World Cup held in South Africa in 2010 was something he always wanted because he felt he wanted a major event in South Africa. He was part of the team that went to Zurich to campaign for the 2010 World Cup. He also campaigned to get the Olympic Games. When I last spoke with him, about eight months ago, he said 'Sam, when are we going to get the Olympic Games'? I said 'We're trying our very best'. And hopefully we can commemorate Nelson Mandela's activities, his passion for sport and his passion for the Olympics in trying to get the Games to South Africa in the very near future.”

Cape Town, along with Rome, Stockholm and Buenos Aires was defeated by Athens in the race to host the 2004 Olympic Games. South Africa had been expected to bid for the 2020 Olympics before the government surprised many by announcing it would not support such a move. Durban has been linked with a bid for the 2024 Games.