Pretoria – All eyes will be on the grand symbolic opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games later this evening.
The worldwide broadcast of the Olympic opening ceremony event already named “Isle of Wonder” will start at 9pm.
The ceremony will provide an opportunity for the world to view the artistic expression of the Artistic Director, Danny Boyle, his team and the culture of the Host City and the United Kingdom.
There are certain elements that must feature in every ceremony, as outlined in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) charter. The artistic performance of the Ceremony then gets underway and welcomes the world to the London 2012 Games.
On Thursday, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and SASCOC President Gideon Sam spoke spiritedly from their hearts to Team SA during the official opening of Ekhaya, home away from home at South Africa House in Trafalgar Square on Thursday.
“We’re here in SA house with a national team that we can be proud of,” said Mbalula to loud applause. “This is it … we have now arrived and it’s time to walk the talk.
“I’ve been to see how our athletes are getting on in the Olympic Village. They tell me it’s better than the village in Beijing (2008). They are all content and that is thanks to the British hospitality. Now it is a case of ‘Forwards Ever – Backwards Never’”.
Mbalula said although Banyana Banyana went down 4-1 to a formidable Swedish team, the girls have already made the nation proud by being the first South African football qualifiers for the Olympic Games.
He said Team SA must draw strength from Ernie Els’ victory in the British Open golf championships and Hashim Amla’s triple ton and South Africa’s Test cricket victory against England in recent days.
“It doesn’t get better than beating the English in their own backyard. I urge this team to fight with the ferocity of a cornered bull and the agility of a cat,” he said.
Sam said he remained committed to his goals of getting12 medals. “Our President, Jacob Zuma, was very clear when he said there is no doubt about 12(medals) in 2012 and he himself said ‘go and get it’.
“I hear the talk that we may only get four medals but we can’t come here to London and then suddenly turn around and change our minds. We owe it to the athletes to stick to our task.
“We’re here to perform – the athletes worked hard since the last Olympics and now is their turn.”
Welcoming the team, South Africa’s High Commissioner, Dr Zola Skweyiya, said: “Records are broken at the Olympics every four years because we have the world’s very best athletes competing. I’m hoping we can share with the world South Africa’s passion for sport.
“I wish you luck – fly your flag high as ambassadors and to each one of you, I assure you of our total support.”
The integrated approach of Ekhaya will help to profile South Africa as a formidable player in the global arena, particularly after the successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Ekhaya will offer a variety of events such as South Africa’s heritage, tourism, arts and culture including fashion shows, musical performances, provincial exhibitions, as well as premier South African brands operating in the United Kingdom.
Ekhaya will be situated on the South Bank of the Thames River, not far from Trafalgar Square in London and will be operational daily from 8am during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The venue is large and accessible. -SAnews.gov.za