Gold Coast to host 2018 Commonwealth Games
The Gold Coast city of Australia won its bid to host 2018 Commonwealth Games in 2018 by 43 to 27 votes against Hambanthota, Sri Lanka, on Friday. The vote was the last in the agenda of Commonwealth Games General Assembly meeting in the Caribbean.
Two strong teams from Gold Coast city and Hambanthota were in St Kitts and Nevis for a last ditch effort to win their bids. Once it seemed to be favouring the Sri Lankan city of Hambantota instead of the Gold Coast in the lead up to the vote but proved wrong at the end of the event.
Sri Lanka was seeking to host the Games for the first time and boasted of many plans to develop its southern city of Hambanthota to a world event that would second only to the Olympics.
It was a head versus heart call for delegates with Gold Coast deemed a low-risk bid city while the Sri Lankans asked for a "life-changing opportunity".
Hambantota, which is rebuilding after being devastated by the 2004 Asian tsunami, had made a humble and dignified pitch to the CGF to help them in their massive regeneration program.
Sri Lanka's former test bowler, with a world record 800 test wickets to his credit, made the final speech on behalf of his nation to win the bid. It was one of those rare opportunities that the bowler has failed in his life.
Muralidaran said hosting rights would transform his country like the 1995 Rugby World Cup changed and united post-apartheid South Africa under the leadership of Nelson Mandela.
Sri Lanka's government has committed to spend 60 percent of the £745 million required to build the infrastructure. Yet the issues that plagued the build-up to the 2010 Games in Delhi, which cost £1.4bn, rising to 7.9bn when infrastructure projects were calculated, will the CGF's membership be willing to take a risk on an even more unknown quantity?
Indeed the CGF's own evaluation commission described the Hambanthota bid as a medium to high risk, compared with the low risk of the Gold Coast.
Australia has a better history in hosting games of this magnitude as they have successfully hosted four previous editions of the event, recently and most successfully in Melbourne in 2006 and previously in Brisbane (1982), Perth (1962) and Sydney (1938).