Work is well underway to prepare the team, while government has launched the Magnificent Fridays campaign to mobilise national support for Team South Africa.
However, with recent reports highlighting the use of banned substances amongst athletes, Deputy Minister of Sport Gert Oosthuizen says his department has always supported the Institute for Drug-Free Sport’s aim to aggressively tackle doping in sport while spreading the message of ethics and fair play.
Although a positive test was always disappointing, Oosthuizen said some athletes used these stimulants unaware that they were banned.
Speaking during a briefing by the Governance and Administration Cluster in Pretoria on Friday, the minister said his department, with its partners, would continue to rigorously reach out and educate athletes about banned substances and the dangers of doping.
According to the SA Institute for Drug Free Sport, the increase in positive results was due to the widespread availability of sports supplements that contain banned substances like anabolic steroids, pro hormones and stimulants.
The advertising and marketing of these products is widespread and prays on the performance anxiety of athletes, with the products being promoted as an instant solution to improved performance.
Switching focus to sport at school level, Chairperson of the Governance and Administration Cluster and Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said the School Sport leagues, which aim to increase the athlete base in the country and improve the talent pool, was gaining momentum.
Already, 11 000 schools have registered for participation.
Other projects include the appointment of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Recreation to research best practice in recreation delivery, and norms and standards on the delivery and maintenance of recreational facilities in the country.
The cluster would continue with its efforts of ensuring a transformed sport and recreation sector, which will open opportunities for youth to participate actively in sport and recreation.
This, according to Dlamini Zuma, would also lead to better representation and performing national teams.
Moving to the work of the Arts and Culture Department, which also falls under the Governance and Administration Cluster, Dlamini Zuma reported that work was underway at the homestead of former President of the ANC, Oliver Reginald Tambo, in Nkantolo, Bizana, where a museum, an interpretation centre and a statue were being erected.
A total of R25 million has been earmarked for the project, which is expected to create about 50 permanent jobs as well as 90 short term jobs.
The projects, which seek to preserve the country’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, with particular emphasis on liberation heritage, were first announced in January.
Dlamini Zuma said “considerable” progress had been made on the Steven Biko Centre in Ginsberg, Eastern Cape. The centre, she said, might be opened in either September or October.
The Dr John Langalibalele Dube Heritage Legacy project has been launched in KwaZulu-Natal. It costs R60 million and is expected to create 270 jobs.
Dlamini Zuma said the cluster was also pushing for the opening of 15 new community libraries and for 50 to be upgraded in the 2012/13 financial year.
“Libraries remain an important tool for educating our youth. A reading nation is an informed nation which will be well equipped to deal with many challenges, and achieve its developmental objectives,” said Dlamini Zuma.
Meanwhile, she added that preparations for next month’s Social Cohesion Summit, to be held at the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in Kliptown, Soweto, were well underway.
The theme of the summit will be “Working Together to Create a Caring and Proud Society”, and it will help to prioritise and clearly articulate common goals or a “national vision” for social cohesion.
In preparation for the summit, government has undertaken research and produced a draft discussion document towards the development of a national strategy for building an inclusive and cohesive society.