Johannesburg: Cricket World Cup 2003 was officially launched in Soweto, South Africa's largest township near Johannesburg on Thursday, with the hoisting of the events' flag and the unveiling of its mascot - a zebra named "Dazzler".
|At the launch at the Soweto Oval, the event's director, Ali Bacher, urged all South Africans to embrace it. "Everyone should feel that this is his or her game," Bacher said. He said one of the aims of the tournament was to develop 50 ovals in the country's previously disadvantaged areas to promote the sport. |
"The World Cup must benefit both blacks and whites. Blacks must be empowered by this event. We are very sincere about that. It is not negotiable," Bacher said. International Cricket Council executive officer Malcolm Speed welcomed the official launch as the start point of one of the world's great sporting events, the ICC said in a statement released in Johannesburg. South African Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour raised the 2003 World Cup flag.
The tournament will begin in Cape Town in February 2003 and will entail 54 games at 15 venues in three countries - South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya. Some 800,000 spectators are expected at the grounds, while organisers claim a global audience in excess of one billion will view the tournament on television.