Obama’s World Cup dithering creates problem for South Africa

Posted by on May 7th, 2010 and filed under Defence/Security, International, Politics, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Johannesburg, May 7 (DPA) The uncertainty over whether US President Barack Obama will attend the football World Cup is creating problems for the South African Police, the country’s police commissioner Bheki Cele said Friday.

‘One challenge is the American president who is coming, not coming, coming, not coming,’ Cele told a parliamentary committee during a briefing on the police’s World Cup security plans in Cape Town, SAPA news agency reported.

‘It is 50-50 (whether Obama comes or not),’ Cele said, joking that police were secretly hoping the US would be knocked out in the first round to avoid the mammoth task of protecting the US president.

‘Our prayer is that the Americans don’t make the second round,’ he told parliamentarians in Cape Town, sparking laughter.

‘We are told that if it goes to the second or third stage, the US president may come,’ he said.

Cele said 43 heads of state had provisionally confirmed they will be attending the June 11-July 11 tournament but that the challenges presented by an Obama visit would dwarf the rest.

‘That 43 will be equal to this one operation,’ he said.

Security will be tight during the World Cup, which is being held in Africa for the first time and is on course to attract between 200,000 and 300,000 foreign visitors.

South Africa has set aside 44,000 police to secure the tournament.

Cele said he has been told by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane that the likelihood of Obama visiting was ‘becoming bigger’.

The US is one of 32 teams to have qualified for the World Cup final, and the team’s fans are among the most enthusiastic, if tickets sold are anything to go by.

After South Africans, Americans have bought the most tickets.

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