Gold Coast to host 2018 Commonwealth Games
Sat, 12 Nov 00:16:00 2011
Australia's Gold Coast has been chosen to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the event's governing body said in St Kitts and Nevis.
The Commonwealth Games Federation opted for Gold Coast by a 43-27 margin over its only rival, the Sri Lankan city of Hambantota.
The subtropical beachside region of Queensland will bring the Games to Australia for a fifth time, after Sydney in 1938, Perth (1962), Brisbane (1982) and Melbourne (2006).
"We've done a lot of hard work and it was very clear earlier in the week that there were a lot delegates wanting to support Hambantota," a jubilant Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said. "It's been a very, very close vote.
"There was a good chance that we weren't going to make it. We had seven (presentation) rehearsals, we've lobbied everybody, people have had jet-lag all week.
"At the end of all that, the hard work has paid off. I am so proud of this team, I am so proud of the Gold Coast and I am so proud of being a Queenslander tonight."
The Gold Coast bid represented the safer of the two with the CGF still smarting from the public relations disaster that surrounded the Delhi Games last year when last-minute government intervention was required to clean up filthy facilities and dangerous infrastructure.
Many top athletes such as Jamaica's multiple Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt skipped the 2010 Games because the timing did not fit their schedules, while other athletes stayed away because of security concerns which proved unfounded.
Sri Lanka had been bidding to stage the Games for the first time, with the Asian continent having previously played host just twice with Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and India's New Delhi last year.
Winning the right to host the 2018 Games would have given Sri Lanka a timely opportunity to change the world's perception of the war-hit country.
The Indian Ocean island nation is emerging from the end of a three-decade conflict amid war crime allegations, and more than 100,000 people were killed before hostilities ended in May 2009.
The port city of Hambantota was ravaged by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Sri Lanka had hoped to secure the 2018 Games to help attract infrastructure investment to boost redevelopment.
Its supporters, including retired cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan, urged voters to give Sri Lanka a chance to rebuild their country through the Games.
But despite government guarantees, there were concerns about the long-term sustainability of such a massive project.
"A Games staged in the Gold Coast presents a low risk, subject to village development arrangements being secured, while a Games in Hambantota presents a medium to high risk," a Commonwealth Games Federation Evaluation Commission report said.
The report on Hambantota later noted, "Should the delivery of infrastructure be delayed or otherwise materially compromised, the impact of the Games and the financing of mitigation arrangements would be substantial."
Malaysia's Prince Tunku Imran, who replaced Michael Fennell of Jamaica as CGF president earlier on Friday, was asked by reporters about the need for the Games to be shared more fairly across the globe.
Sixteen of the previous 19 editions have been staged in Australia, Britain, Canada or New Zealand.
"Certainly in terms of making the Commonwealth Games the desirable Games for the top athletes ... the top attraction for the broadcasters ... the top attraction for spectators ... we have got to ensure that all those factors are satisfied by where those Games are located," Imran said.
"In terms of geo-political considerations, these are always important. Sri Lanka has demonstrated quite clearly that a country like Sri Lanka does have the capability of hosting the Games.
"It's a matter of timing. As a federation, we have to encourage others by convincing them there are real benefits of hosting the Games."