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Mbeki: Opening of ICC Cricket World Cup (08/02/2003)

8th February 2003

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Date: 08/02/2003
Source: The Presidency
Title: Mbeki: Opening of ICC Cricket World Cup


ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, THABO MBEKI, AT THE OPENING OF THE ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2003, Newlands, Cape Town, 8 February 2003

Director of Ceremonies,
President of the ICC, Mr Malcolm Gray,
Dr Ali Bacher, Executive Director of the ICC,
Mr Malcolm Speed, CEO of the ICC,
Minister of Sport and Recreation of South Africa, Mr Ngconde Balfour, & representatives of Kenya and Zimbabwe,
The entire leadership of the ICC,
Participating Teams and Officials,
Distinguished Guests,
Volunteers,
Peoples of the World:

WELCOME TO AFRICA, TO SOUTH AFRICA AND, INDEED, TO THE BEAUTIFUL CITY OF CAPE TOWN! A very warm African welcome also to our worldwide television audience!

I believe that over the duration of the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup, some 1.2 billion people across the globe will join us in this celebration of sport and sportsmanship.

After a journey of 28 years, the ICC Cricket World Cup has finally reached the continent of Africa. On behalf of the host-people of South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe, who are standing in for Africa as a whole, I would like to thank the global cricket community, as represented by the ICC, for the honour bestowed on our countries and our continent to provide a home for this important tournament.

We are conscious of the fact that this, the eighth Cricket World Cup, is the biggest ever. We believe that together, we can and will make it the best ever. I am convinced that our country and people have done what they could to contribute to this outcome.

In discharging our responsibility in this regard, we will live up to the challenges we have accepted as hosts. We assure you that Africa will live up to its obligations to the players, the officials, the cricket authorities and the millions of cricket enthusiasts throughout the world.

For their part, our peoples have opened their doors and hearts to the great sportsmen who will take to the field in Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

We want you to be part of a true African experience such as you witnessed during the magnificent performance earlier this evening by volunteers drawn from this and other parts of our country.

We trust that the occasion of this international sports spectacle will also provide those from outside Africa with the opportunity to share in our rich and diverse cultures, and enjoy the inspiring and beautiful natural heritage that defines our countries and continent.

This sports competition is about peace among the peoples of the world. It is about strengthening friendship among the nations and the youth of the world. It seeks to celebrate both individual talent and our achievements through our collective and cooperative efforts as human beings.

It strives to inspire all young people everywhere to aspire to excellence in mind and body, and interaction among the peoples of the world in conditions of mutual respect.

We thank the International Cricket Council for bringing the great galaxy of cricket stars present at these cricket grounds tonight to communicate these messages to the continent of Africa. You have come to us as messengers of peace, not war.

You have come to us as representatives of the movement towards friendship among the peoples. You are on our continent to make a statement about the inherent worth and dignity of every human being, regardless of colour, race, gender or belief.

As you play in the exciting matches that millions will watch everywhere in the world, you will, at the same time, convey to the peoples of Africa a message of hope rather than despair.

All Africa thanks you that you have thus come to us as friends. Thus you have given us a gift that is as priceless as life itself.

To the players, I would like to extend my congratulations for being accorded the honour to represent their countries in this prestigious competition. We wish all the teams and players the best in their efforts. They should all know that to have participated in this tournament is itself a great achievement.

I would also like to thank the players for their contributions to the upliftment of this sport in South Africa. We are grateful for your participation in development clinics and matches, reaching out to those who were excluded in the past.

I am certain that your involvement and inspiration will kindle the fire that will see many of our youth taking up the game and, ultimately, excelling in the sport. I am also confident that your performances over the next few weeks will further encourage them and their peers internationally to follow in your footsteps.

We also extend our best wishes to the umpires and other officials, knowing that with them in charge, the games are in good hands.

To all of us, let us all rejoice in the fact that regardless of who wins the Cup, we will all be victors!

I am now honoured to declare this 8th ICC Cricket World Cup tournament officially open.

I thank you.

Issued by The Presidency
8 February 2003
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