Gabon, which co-hosts the
2012 Africa Cup of Nations with Equatorial Guinea, has completed
building its stadiums in Libreville and Franceville in time for
the tournament from January 21 to February 12.
Louis Claude Moundzieoud Koumba, chief spokesman for the
organising committee COCAN Gabon, said on Friday the 40,000-seat
stadium in Libreville (pictured) and the 25,000-seat ground in Franceville
were now finished.
"We can assure you that everything is ready to host the
tournament," Koumba said through a translator. "It was a
challenge but it was a priority for the country and now they are
waiting for the fans."
"[Gabon] President [Ali Bongo] visited the infrastructure
sites at least once a week to make sure everything was
The infrastructure problems facing the organisers were
highlighted last month during Gabon's friendly match against
Brazil when the game was delayed by almost 20 minutes after the
lights went off twice at the new Sino-Gabonese Friendship
Stadium in Libreville.
The condition of the pitch was also heavily criticised after
a tropical downpour made the surface virtually unplayable.
However, Koumba said the Brazil game had been merely a test
even and the problems had been rectified.
"Everything on the field has been resolved and the drainage
system has been modified," he said. "I can assure you everything
is in excellent performing condition."
Koumba said the two host countries expected around 60,000
visitors during the tournament.
"There are 4,500 beds in Libreville and 2,000 in
Franceville, but that doesn't include hotels that were
constructed especially for personnel and athletes," he said.
Koumba said local people would also help to fill a shortfall
in accommodation and help foreigners in need of a bed.
"Gabon has a tradition of hospitality and peace and welcomes
fans. The African people have a tradition of inviting and
hosting people in their homes," he said.
Reuters journalists have reported difficulties booking hotel
rooms or apartments.
Another irritant for travelling fans has been the
availability of visas. Koumba said special 45-day visas would be
available from Monday for Africa Cup of Nations visitors from
Gabonese and Equatorial Guinea embassies.
"If the supporters are unable to get to an embassy, they can
access the visa at the airport in Gabon," Koumba said.
The ministry of interior, Koumba said, rounded up all the
airline companies flying to Gabon and instructed them to allow
passengers to fly to Gabon without a visa, though the fans will
have to present the right documents on arrival to be granted
Koumba said the tournament would showcase Gabon to the
"The Cup of African Nations usually runs at 40 percent
capacity and we will surpass that. We have a lot of expatriates
and a large international community and we know that they will
be requesting tickets and we believe that the stadiums will be
full," he said.
Gabon will host 16 games and tickets for the home team's
matches have already sold out. Koumba said tickets were still
available for other fixtures.
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