Olympic Newsdesk -- South Africa 2020; 50th Anniversary of Rome Paralympics

(ATR) Confusion surrounds South African bid ... Games were a watershed moment for Paralympic Movement ... Format changes for IIHF worlds ...

Confusion Surrounds South African Bid

Doubts are rising over whether Durban is the anointed candidate from South Africa to bid for the 2020 Olympics.

The three other cities invited to bid by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee - Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Port Elizabeth - have all raised questions about the selection method.

Reports in South African media say that both Cape Town and Port Elizabeth were never invited to bid, and Johannesburg asked for more time to prepare a bid, but SASCOC never replied to the request.

Around the Rings has not been able to obtain immediate comment from SASCOC.

SASCOC has said that only Durban responded to the invitation to bid.

Pieter Cronje, a spokesman for the city of Cape Town, was quoted saying the selection of Durban nearly two weeks ago "took not only us by surprise." He added that no process was detailed for the bid and "the next thing we know, Durban is the city."

The South African government must give final approval to a bid.

A host city for the Games will be selected at the 2013 IOC Session. Bidding will formally begin following the 2011 Session, which Durban is hosting.

Rome Paralympics Mark 50th Anniversary

Rome commemorates Monday the 50th anniversary of the 1960 Paralympics, in many ways the first fully realized Games for athletes with disabilities.

More than 5,000 spectators filled Acqua Acetosa stadium exactly half a century ago for the opening ceremony.

The IOC didn’t actually approve the term "Paralympic Games" until 1984, but that didn’t stop Paralympic movement founder Ludwig Guttmann and Antonia Maglio, director of the spinal center in Rome, from staging the largest international games to date for the disabled athletes.

The so-called 9th Annual International Stoke Mandeville Games marked the first time the Paralympics were held immediately after the Olympics as well as the first time a single city hosted both.

The Italian Institute for Disabled Workers and the Italian National Olympic Committee supported the Games, which opened six days after the Rome Olympics.

Rome 1960 was a watershed moment for the Paralympic Movement, but organizers and participants alike are focusing more this anniversary on the progress that has been made in the 50 years since as well as the stark contrast between then and now.

"Only athletes in wheelchairs were allowed to compete in Rome yet the athlete village wasn’t built for people in wheelchairs," Austrian Paralympic pioneer Kevin Coombs said in a statement.

"There were stairs in every building and the Italian army had to carry the athletes up and down."

Italy finished atop the medal count in Rome with the U.K. and U.S. close behind.

"Look whatprogresshas been made since then," International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven said. "We at the IPC all look forward to the Games to come in London 2012, Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016. Thank you Rome!"

Italy’s National Paralympic Committee uploaded a 30-minute video under the "Videoteche" tab of its online TV channel to honor the occasion.

Paralympic Sport TV’s YouTube channel also sports a brief clip of action from the 1960 Games.

Ice Hockey Champs Get Longer, Easier To Sell

Format changes the International Ice Hockey Federation world championships mean an extra game must be won if a nation wants to be crowned world champion.

The IIHF Congress approved Friday an extended and rearranged tournament ahead of the 2012 championshipsin Finland and Sweden.

The congress took place in Slovenia.

Two 8-team groups will replace the existing four 4-team groups, nixing the need for games that organizers had always struggled to sell.

"This is a good change and everyone is happy," IIHF president René Fasel said in a statement.

"The qualifying round has been a tough sell as you may have the last games of the preliminary round being played on a Wednesday, and it is not until very late that day that the fans get to know which teams will be opening the qualifying round on Thursday."

Under the new format, fans will know in advance when, where and against whom their teams’ first seven games will come.

The top four finishers from each group will enter an eight-team, single-elimination playoff, meaning the champion must win 10 games, up from the current nine.

IOC Honors NBC’s Vancouver Coverage

NBC won three Olympic Golden Rings last week for its coverage of the Vancouver Winter Games.

Gary Zenkel, the network’s Olympics president, attended the IOC’s biennial awards show in Lausanne to accept on NBC’s behalf.

NBC won gold for best Olympic feature and best athlete profile as well as silver for best Olympic program.

Media Watch

BBC London speaks to Siobhan McDermot, the Olympic Park’s newly crowned 100,000th visitor.

The Los Angeles Times reports on a shooting in Delhi just two weeks before the Commonwealth Games open in the Indian capital.

Written by Matthew Grayson.