With less than 100 days to go until the 2010 World Cup kicks off, South African President Jacob Zuma sought to assuage concerns that crime may plight the event during a state visit to Britain.
AFP - South African President Jacob Zuma promised visitors would be protected at the 2010 World Cup as he sought to allay fears the country's crime rate would blight the tournament.
"The fact is we have brought down crime already," he said during his state visit to Britain on Thursday.
"We are therefore very confident on this. And when we say we are ready now for the World Cup, we include security in that.
"They will come to South Africa safely and leave safer," he added.
"At the beginning many people said it would be very difficult for South Africa to host the competition.
"For the last six years we have worked very hard to ensure we are able to welcome the world to South Africa.
"We can say now without fear of contradiction that we are ready, if not more than ready, to receive those who come to South Africa," he insisted ahead of the first World Cup ever to be staged on the African continent.
Zuma spoke after visiting Wembley Stadium, the home of English football, where he met officials involved in England's bid to stage the 2018 World Cup.
Earlier, Danny Jordaan, the chief executive of South Africa's organising committee, said the 2010 event was involved in a journey of "perception and reality".
"The perception is South Africa will never be ready, the infrastructure won't be complete, the stadiums won't be complete, we will run out of money, no-one will come to South Africa, it is too dangerous, no-one will buy tickets," Jordaan said.
Jordaan, speaking at Chelsea Football Club, also confronted fears surrounding spectator safety at the World Cup.
"Our responsibility as an event organiser is to have a plan safeguarding everyone coming to the event," he said.
"That is why we will have 45,000 additional police recruits and 41,000 additional police."
He added: "This world is uncertain and unstable, not just for one country.
"If you look at the track record of South Africa, it has hosted more than 150 major events since 1994, including the Rugby World Cup, the Cricket World Cup, and last year we hosted the Indian Premier League after India was deemed unsafe and (rugby union's) British and Irish Lions and (football's) Confederations Cup -- and there was not a single incident.
"We are comfortable but we will be vigilant."
Jordaan also predicted FIFA, football's world governing body, would generate 3.5 billion dollars from this World Cup, making it the most successful financially in the tournament's history.
"In Germany (at the 2006 World Cup), it was only 2.6 billion. This will be the highest revenue ever for a World Cup."
Date created : 2010-03-05