of the Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid

August 1997



The Olympic Games is the biggest international sporting and cultural event in the world. On 5 September 1997, South Africans will find out whether or not Cape Town (1) will be selected by the International Olympic Committee as the host city for the summer Olympic Games in 2004.

According to the Olympic Bid Company, the Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid is the first Bid in the history of the Games which explicitly seeks to promote the ideal of human development as the fourth pillar of Olympism. Balancing this developmental imperative with the need to provide world class sporting facilities and related infrastructure, in a culturally sensitive and environmentally sustainable manner is enormously challenging.

In order to assess the consequences of hosting the Games in Cape Town, there is a need to develop an understanding of the potential long-term and far-reaching impacts of preparing for and hosting the Games, and to identify specific proposals in the current Bid Plan which might need to be reconsidered if the Bid is successful. It is the first time in the history of the Games that such a study, called a Strategic Environmental Assessment, has been undertaken by a bidding city. The Strategic Environmental Assessment aims to provide an integrated view of the long-term social, economic and environmental consequences of preparing for and hosting the Games in Cape Town in 2004.

An independent group of professional consultants, called the Olympics Assessment Team, co-ordinated this Strategic Environmental Assessment. The team was appointed by a selection panel which included representatives from the Olympic Bid Company, local, regional and national government, and non-governmental and community based organisations. The Olympics Assessment Team is accountable firstly to the public, and secondly to the client body. The first phase of the Strategic Environmental Assessment was commissioned by the Cape Metropolitan Council and the remaining phases by the Olympic Bid Company.

It is important to recognise the Olympic Bid Company's role in successfully preparing a developmental Bid and reaching the final shortlist of bidding cities. This is a remarkable achievement, given South Africa's recent political transformation; its social and economic characteristics; the fact that the Bid, unlike the other four cities on the shortlist, was largely sponsored by the private sector; and the stringent requirements set by the International Olympic Committee.


In Phase 1 of the study, the proposed approach was endorsed by a wide range of interested and affected parties and an extensive list of issues relating to the Bid was prepared. An assessment of the values and goals outlined in relevant legislation and public policy documents indicated which of these issues should be considered as strategic issues. These issues were:

* Economic performance
* Small business opportunities
* Public finance
* Public involvement
* Urban development pattern
* Transport
* Nation-building
* Job creation
* Price effects
* Institutional capacity
* Population growth effects
* Housing
* Sport needs
* Promoting sustainability

In Phase 2 of the study, the strategic issues identified in Phase 1 were examined in more detail through the following specialist investigations:

* Public Participation and the Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid: Kent Arnold, consultant to the Centre for Conflict Resolution;
* The Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid and Nation-Building: Steffen Robertson and Kirsten;
* The Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid and Sustainability: Steffen Robertson and Kirsten;
* Population Growth Analysis for the Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid SEA: Larry Aberman, Larry Aberman Town Planning;
* Assessment of the Institutional Capacity of Cape Town to Host the Olympic Games in 2004: Simon Ratcliffe, BDM Consulting;
* A Critical Analysis of the DBSA Macroeconomic Predictions for the Cape Town Olympic Games, 2004: John Stuart, The Budget Project, School of Economics, UCT;
* Public Finances Analysis for Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid: Iraj Abedian, The Budget Project, School of Economics, UCT, and Karen Heese, BDM Consulting;
* The Impact of the Olympics on the Construction Industry: Andrew Merrifield, Project Leader: Construction Industry Performance, CSIR;
* The Tourism Economic Effects of the Olympic Games: Heidi Keyser;
* Housing and Accommodation: Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid: Chittenden Nicks Partnership;
* Cape Town Olympic Bid: Transportation Assessment: Bill Cameron, TRC Africa (Pty) Ltd;
* A Critical Assessment of Sports and Recreation Planning and Management for the Hosting of the Cape Town Olympic Games: Ninham Shand;
* Urban Development Dynamics: Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid: Chittenden Nicks Partnership;
* Assessment of the Potential Impacts of the Cape Town Olympic Games on the Natural-Urban System Dynamics: Ninham Shand.

In Phase 3, the findings of the specialist studies were summarised, synthesised, and analysed so as to provide an holistic assessment of the potential systemic impacts of bidding for and hosting the Games in Cape Town in 2004. These findings were presented in the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment Report.

In Phase 4 of the Strategic Environmental Assessment, which followed the release of the Draft Strategic Environmental Assessment Report, interested and affected parties had an opportunity to review this draft report and to make suggested changes, before the Olympics Assessment Team prepared this Final Strategic Environmental Assessment Report.


The Bid has been specifically developed to contribute to realising national policy objectives, such as the Reconstruction and Development Programme, and at the metropolitan scale, policy initiatives such as the Metropolitan Spatial Development Framework. The Olympic Bid Company proposes to contribute to such policy objectives in a number of ways, including: developing infrastructure projects that will promote public and private sector partnerships; providing a range of sports and recreational facilities; acting as a catalyst for economic development, creating sustainable jobs and boosting tax revenue; promoting small, medium and micro enterprise development and labour intensive construction policies; applying the principles of Integrated Environmental Management to projects; dispersing competition and training facilities into previously marginalised areas to act as nodes for development; and providing affordable housing and facilities to promote inner-city reconstruction.

The main challenge facing a developmental Bid is to promote new development opportunities in previously disadvantaged areas of the Cape Metropolitan Region, particularly the Cape Flats and the Metro South East. To promote such development, the Bid Plan is intended to act as a catalyst, and to accelerate and "kick-start" development. The OBC proposes that its facilities should help to establish "sub-centres" in disadvantaged areas. These should, in turn, initiate development of new town centres and improve the quality of life in these areas. The way in which the Bid Plan intends to achieve this is by dispersing competition and training facilities in the most needy areas of the Cape Metropolitan Region. Competition venues will be located at accessible points, close to public transport. Olympics-related investment is intended to accelerate public sector funding of infrastructure so as to service the sub-centres. This accelerated public investment is seen as a key factor in attracting vital private sector investment for subsequent development.


The prospect of hosting the Games in Cape Town in 2004 must be viewed in the light of South Africa's recent emergence from apartheid, its status as a developing country, and the enormous economic and social challenges it faces. The Bid has been designed to meet the challenges and opportunities of the South African context, whilst fulfilling the requirements and expectations of the International Olympic Committee in providing the world class sporting facilities and related infrastructure necessary for hosting the premier international sporting and cultural event.

The terms of reference for this Strategic Environmental Assessment are to:

* Identify and evaluate the potential systemic impacts of preparing for and hosting the 2004 Olympic Games in Cape Town on specific economic, social and biophysical processes. Particular emphasis is placed on those longer term impacts which could affect the development of the Cape Metropolitan Region and South Africa as a whole; and,

* Identify specific proposals in the current plan which might need to be reconsidered if the Bid is successful.

4.1 Public Expectations

To undertake a fair assessment of the Bid proposals, it is necessary to distinguish between realistic and unrealistic expectations.

Hosting the Olympic Games has been seen by some as the answer to many of the developmental problems of the Cape Metropolitan Region and South Africa, such as alleviating poverty, crime and unemployment, improving education and skills, providing homes and redressing the spatial inequalities caused by apartheid. In reality, however, it is impossible for the Games to address these massive needs. The Games alone cannot provide the millions of jobs and houses needed in the Cape Metropolitan Region and in South Africa as a whole. The Games will also not be able to redress the deep-rooted spatial and economic imbalances caused by decades of apartheid.

The Strategic Environmental Assessment has also examined some of the widespread perceptions about a potential influx of job-seekers to the Cape, as a result of real or perceived job opportunities arising from the Olympics. In doing so, it finds that this fear has probably been overstated. Immigration from the rest of Africa to the Cape Metropolitan Region is probably relatively limited; and migration from the Eastern Cape is likely to have already reached a peak, and might only increase slightly as a result of the Games. Related concerns about the ability of the natural environment to cope with increased population pressure are thus also found to be overstated.

more . . .

Posted by the Olympics Assessment Team of the Stategic Environmental Assessment of the Cape Town 2004 Olympic Bid.
Email inquiries to the team from this point, or refer to the contact details above.