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30 September 2009
Fifty experts from FIFA and the Organizing Committee in South Africa have completed an inspection of the stadiums to be used in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The overall consensus of the experts is that South Africa's preparations for the 2010 FIFA football (soccer) World Cup are well on track. They have been visiting the ten stadiums across the country, some new, some refurbished, and Ron Delmont, the head of FIFA South Africa, says he is pleased.
"Now those walls have paint on them, the floors have covering on them, there is carpet, we can walk into the media center, we do not have to envision the media center; we can clearly identify where the busses are going to drop off the teams. We can look at how we are going to cater for the spectators as they come to the stadium, and most important when everyone leaves, which will happen en masse. So I think this inspection has given us a high level of comfort," he said.
Organizing Committee in South Africa CEO Danny Jordaan told the media briefing in Johannesburg, the construction of the stadiums will be complete in December.
"And now we sit in the position where one of the new stadiums, in Port Elizabeth, has already seen a number of international matches and all of the other stadiums we know will be complete well before the kickoff on the 11th of June  - in fact when we go to the final draw, all of these stadiums will be ready from a construction point of view," said Jordaan.
Dereck Blanckensee, FIFA's chief competitions officer, told the media briefing in Johannesburg that what will remain to be done, much closer to competition time, is putting the FIFA-required additional infrastructure in place.
"The overlay process of building those temporary structures really only happens shortly before the tournament starts and that is of course completely intentional because those things are all rented structures, so you would not want them standing there for months and months," said Blanckensee.
The experts also spoke of transport and security, which had been a worry for FIFA. Jordaan says much work has been done to improve transport with improvements in the rail system, including a new high speed rail network for Gauteng province; and new rapid bus systems in the major cities. And he said the South African police are introducing some innovative security measures for the tournament.
"We now have a mobile police station that is attached to the train, so that if you misbehave in the train, you go to jail on the train," he said.
The need for heightened security measures was highlighted last week when all United States facilities in South Africa were closed for two days due to what the State Department called a credible risk. That risk seems to have been dealt with and the U.S. Embassy reported they received excellent support and cooperation from the South African authorities.