Legendary Cameroonian athletic official and former athlete Issa Hayatou is calling for Africa to have a fair chance at hosting the Olympic Games in the future, the first that would ever be held on the continent.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Hayatou, the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and vice-president of the International Federation of Association Football, better known as FIFA, said that there are plenty of nations, including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Nigeria that could host the games in the future- if “prejudice” is put aside.

“South Africa can definitely organize the Olympic Games, with its infrastructure, hotels, communications, transport,” Hayatou said. “I don’t know if there are 10 countries in
Europe that can be better than South Africa in that respect.”

Hayatou, who took his position as the fifth president of CAF in 1987, said that the continent has already proven it can host large-scale events, such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and the Africa Cup of Nations, a football competition that began Jan. 19 and ended on Feb. 10.

If the continent ever hosts the Olympic Games, it would have to go through a grueling process that has six steps from beginning to end.

The bidding phase is a 9-year process, followed by years of foundation and operational planning. The operational readiness phase lasts three and a half years, followed by the two and a half weeks of internationally broadcasted athletic events that are attended from around the world. After the Olympic games, the host city must have a one-year plan of “post-games dissolution.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) looks at a number of criteria when selecting a host city, “including government support, legal issues and public opinion.”

General infrastructure and the applicant city’s sports venues are also taken into consideration, along with the financial standing, safety and security.

According to history given by the IOC, of which Hayatou is a member, the first athletes to ever compete in the Olympic Games did so 3,000 years ago in Olympia, Greece.
At the time, even wars would grind to halt as athletes, officials, and audience members made of men and unmarried women traveled to the event.

The IOC considers 1896 the beginning of modern times for the Olympic games, and since, 47 events have been held in cities around the world.

Africa stands with the Middle East and Caribbean as some of the only places where the Olympic games have not been held, and in 2016, Rio de Janeiro will become the first city on the continent of South America to act as host.

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer