South Africa to host grand sports event to honour Mandela

Johannesburg, Aug 16 (IANS) A grand sports event will take place here Saturday to honour ailing former South African President Nelson Mandela who remains in critical condition.

The event, called the Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day, will be held at the FNB Stadium, with both the national rugby and football teams playing against international teams on the same day at the same venue, reports Xinhua.

The SA national team Bafana Bafana will take on Burkina Faso, while the country's rubby team Springboks will play Argentina. The matches will be preceded by a match between South Africa Masters and Italy Masters. In the evening, a music concert featuring local and international artists will be held.

According to organisers, over 50,000 tickets have been sold for the event which is part of celebrating the 95th birthday of Mandela which falls on July 18.

The proceeds will go towards building the Nelson Mandela children's hospital in Johannesburg.

"It is a moment we must cherish as a nation. Think about what former President Nelson Mandela has done for the country. Rugby and football give us as a nation an opportunity to unite," Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said.

Patrick Ronan, Risk Advisor for the event, said all security measures are in place, with the deployment of 600 police officers and 1,200 private security personnel in and around the stadium.

Mandela has been hospitalised at a Pretoria hospital since June 8 for a recurring lung infection, his fourth and longest hospital stay since last December.

According to the latest official update on his health earlier this week, Mandela remained in a critical condition and continued to show slow but steady improvement.

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