South Africa is gearing up to host the 2010 World Cup next June. As it prepares to be the tournament's first African host, the country faces a number of hurdles.
Progress is fast underway on stadia across the country, and a new stadium in Cape Town is on track for early completion. But despite these gains on tournament-related infrastructure, the country has many social issues to contend with as it prepares to face the global spotlight.
"[T]here is more to South Africa than the relative affluence of the Western Cape and the country's high crime rates worry many potential visitors. Johannesburg looms large in this context with two venues and some of the world's most frightening crime statistics and stories.
The US embassy last year warned that armed gangs were targeting new arrivals at the Oliver Tambo International Airport. Spotters at the arrivals terminal would identify a victim who would then be followed and either robbed at gun-point outside the airport or at their hotel. South African police strongly denied reports of a crime syndicate but some tourists were mugged in the reception areas of upmarket hotels.
Before anyone scraps plans to head south it's worth considering the scale of the security operation that will shield World Cup visitors. More than 41,000 new police officers will have been hired. Security corridors will be set up linking airports to hotels to venues."
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