Tutu’s flame continues to burn across global sporting arenas

Johannesburg- Although the late Archbishop and Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu retired in October 2010 from public life so that he could spend more time “at home with my family”.

However, his contribution towards a united sporting world has not gone unnoticed.

At the age of 90 when he passed on, Tutu was still a firm believer of sport being a catalyst for change and unity, and he has been an inspiration to many sportsmen and women both locally and internationally.


Tutu leaves behind a number of the world’s sports leaders, sportsmen and women wondering what would become of his crusade for equality on the sporting arenas of the world, especially in the Olympic Movement.

At any rate, Tutu lived a remarkably wonderful life, he cried and laughed while rejoicing with sportspeople all over the world when the situation desired, and performed his signature dance when happy and content with whatever outcome.

One of his dreams that he did not see fulfilled was to see the Olympic Games being held in Cape Town in 1996, or Africa, as he rigorously campaigned to have the greatest sporting spectacle in the world to come to the continent, after the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990.

The 1996 Olympics were eventually hosted by Atlanta in the US.

He was in Athens, Greece for the opening ceremony of the 2004 Olympic Games.

Tutu had this to say at the time: “An Olympics in Cape Town could bring prosperity to our country and all the people of Africa.”


Incumbent International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach had this to say about the death of the Arch: “I got to know Desmond Tutu in 1996 as a passionate lover of the Olympic Games and sport.

“He always appreciated the great contribution of the Olympic Games to peace and understanding.”

Cape Town ended up in fourth round of voting out of five cities for the 2004 Games before losing out to Rome and eventual winner Athens, but Tutu participated in the flame-lighting ceremony for the Athens Games.

Tutu also represented Africa as one of the bearers of the Olympic flag during the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games’ opening ceremony.

Here are some tributes from the sporting fraternity on the passing on of Tutu:

“It came as a shock to hear the news. The archbishop was an example to all of us on how to conduct our lives. He was a principled man who fought for justice and equality and was a global icon,” said Sascoc president Barry Hendricks.

Safa president Danny Jordaan said: “The late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu played an instrumental role in winning the bid and the successful hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.”

Tutu received the Fifa Presidential Award in 2011, among many of his awards.

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said: “We have lost another giant and our country is immensely the poorer for it.”

Cricket South Africa acting CEO Pholetsi Moseki said: “There are just a handful of people who have made a greater contribution to our democracy, the reconciliation project and indeed the difficult times of transformation and the unification of sport, in particular cricket in South Africa, than our beloved and much-respected Archbishop Desmond Tutu.”

Dutch football club FC Twente paid tribute to its honorary member Tutu, who visited the club in 2010. The club’s English coach  Steve McClaren recalled Tutu’s visit saying it was “a milestone”.

“He is a man of unprecedented stature. I thought it was fantastic to be able to shake his hand. It was a very special moment for me and for FC Twente.”

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