In just 500 days' time, South Africans will open their doors, hearts and sporting spirits to the world as hosts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
Marking this milestone, 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan used the opportunity to call upon South Africans to stand up and be counted in their nation's efforts to host the best FIFA World Cup ever.
"From the start of the first match on 11 June 2010 until the final whistle on 11 July 2010, we will be the envy and attention of the world at levels never seen before by this nation," said Jordaan. "This will be our time. This will be our tournament. Not only is the successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup our responsibility, it is our honour and duty as South Africans."
An estimated 450,000 international fans are expected to descend on South Africa to share in the excitement come June 2010 and close to 20,000 journalists and 300 broadcasters will be in South Africa in order to take the FIFA World Cup fever to fans around the globe. The cumulative audience of the 64 matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup is expected to be in excess of 26 billion.
As Jordaan explained: "For the past four years the real hands-on work in preparing for 2010 has been the responsibility of the tens of thousands of dedicated South Africans tasked with the design and construction of critical infrastructure for the event. The challenge now is to mobilise the nation - the country needs each and every South African in their workplaces and their communities to stand up and decide what they are doing to welcome the world in 2010."
Four thousand South Africans have already heeded this call and will begin training next month to welcome visitors to the FIFA Confederations Cup - now less than 140 days away. These are the 4000 successful candidates of the close to 40,000 South Africans who applied to volunteer for the tournament. This is just one of the many ways that South Africans can get involved in this historic opportunity.
"Every South African must play their part in ensuring we come together as one nation to deliver the best FIFA World Cup ever," stressed Jordaan. "Be it through participation in the volunteer programme, host city projects, 2010 community programmes or by simply engaging in positive, supportive conversations with friends, fellow workmates and foreigners around our readiness and excitement towards 2010, every South African has a part to play.
On the organisational front, the country remains on track to meet the infrastructure requirements of the tournament. Ten world-class stadiums that are fast-changing city skylines remain on course to be completed by the end of 2009, well ahead of the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup six months later.
The four existing stadiums, Ellis Park, Free State, Royal Bafokeng and Loftus Versfeld, will receive their dress rehearsal long before June 2010 because they will host the FIFA Confederations Cup from 14 to 28 June this year. Transport, security and technology plans are all at advanced stages to ensure that teams and spectators are properly catered for during the tournament.
Roads, rail and public transport projects have turned cities into building sites and the police have embarked on a massive recruitment drive increasing numbers by 55,000 to over 190,000. About 41,000 officers will be deployed specifically for the event and international security experts from former organiser countries such as Germany and France as well as experts of institutions such as Interpol are supporting the South African authorities in their preparations to ensure a safe and secure FIFA World Cup.
According to a recent study by Grant Thornton Strategic Solutions, the 2010 FIFA World Cup will contribute at least R55 billion to the South African economy and create 415,000 direct jobs. This includes national government spending on stadiums and related infrastructure, spectator trip expenditure and ticket sales. It does not include substantial private sector spending, including the building of a number of new hotels around the country, and the money being set aside by host cities and municipalities to ready themselves for the event.
The hosting of the World Cup is expected to leave a substantial tourism legacy for the host country, which already welcomes nine million tourists-a-year. This once-in-a-lifetime marketing opportunity is expected to put South Africa firmly on the tourism map, making it a more widely-known and understood destination for visitors from across the globe.