Coe: My ‘dream’ to see Africa stage Olympics

Sebastian Coe wants to help bring the Olympics to Africa for the

first time.

Coe, the middle-distance great who heads the organizing

committee for the London Games, said Africa is a powerhouse in

running events and deserves to host a world championships in

athletics, first, and eventually the Olympics.

”We want to build a global capacity in sports, and of course

the Olympic Games need to come to Africa at some point,” Coe told

The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday. ”It’s

absolutely essential at some point. It’s a continent that’s

contributed tremendously to athletics.”

Coe said it would be inappropriate to suggest a timeline in

which an African country might host the Olympics, but said global

sports bodies need to move away from traditional venues. He said

international federations likely will have to be more ”hands-on”

in helping a country that hasn’t hosted a major event before.

”Like many around the world, it would also be a dream for me to

see the games staged on this continent,” Coe said during his visit

to Tanzania, where he met students as part a global sports

development program linked with the London Games.

South Africa considered launching an Olympic bid following the

success of the 2010 World Cup but decided not to try for the 2020

Summer Games. It is expected to bid for 2024. Cape Town bid

unsuccessfully for the 2004 Olympics.

Coe said FIFA had to approach the soccer tournament in South

Africa – the first World Cup on the continent – in a slightly

different way, but ”they were still magnificent

championships.”

He thanked former South African President Nelson Mandela for

supporting London’s successful bid and said Mandela has an open

invitation to visit the London Games if is able to travel.

Coe said he expects African runners to dominate running events

from the 800 meters up to the marathon in London, though he hopes

Mo Farah – a Somali-born Briton and world champion in the 5,000 –

finishes high.

”It is quite likely that African athletes will dominate at all

those distances,” Coe said, adding: ”If you look at the (African)

contribution made, it’s extraordinary.”

Coe next travels to Morocco.