C’wealth Games in Hambantota looks increasingly brighter
Sri Lanka’s chances of hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games in
Hambantota looks increasingly brighter as the 2018 Candidate City from
Southern Province opened its hospitality suite at Marriot Resort in
Basseterre, Saint Kitts yesterday.
The architectural model of the proposed new sports city in Hambantota
was the cynosure of all eyes and compared to its rival Australia’s Gold
Coast, Hambantota 2018 cabin attracted more visitors on the first day
That included the Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Mike Hooper. Sri
Lanka National Olympic Committee President Hemasiri Fernando too is
using his good office to woo votes for Sri Lanka.
Adding colour to the well-presented Sri Lankan hospitality desk were
former Sri Lanka cricket captain Aravinda de Silva, Commonwealth Games
silver medalist Sriyani Kulawansa, national women’s badminton champion
Achini Ratnasiri, popular actress turned politician Anarkali Aakarsha
and last year’s Miss Sri Lanka for Miss Universe Stefanie Siriwardene.
World record holder for most number of Test and ODI wickets and spin
wizard Muttiah Muralitharan is scheduled to join his former Sri Laka
team mate De Silva to lobby for Hambantota 2018 Bid.
Sri Lanka contingent for the CGF session arrived in the Caribbean’s
island country of St. Kitts on Sunday after a strenuous 23-hour journey
via London on a special charter flight offered by the national carrier
Sri Lankan Airlines, a sponsor of the Hambantota 2018.
Charming airhostesses from Sri Lankan Airlines greeted visitors to
Hambantota 2018 suite with a truly charming Sri Lankan smile. Members of
the Sri Lanka contingent in St.Kitts and Nevis have been hard at work,
performing their respective roles as sporting ambassadors to keep
Hambantota’s chances alive.
Co-Chairman of Hambantota 2018 Bid Committee and the Governor of the
Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Ajith Nivard Cabraal looked highly confident
with only three days to go for Friday’s decisive voting.
The recent strike by Australia’s national airline Qantas, which
embarrassed the host nation during last month’s Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting (CHOGM 2011) in Perth, has set a major setback to
Gold Coast’s bid with many fearing a similar disruption in air travel in
case they win the bid.
The scheduled departures of at least 17 Heads of State after the
CHOGM 2011 were affected by the Qantas strike and the Australian
authorities were compelled to make personal apology.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Bruce Robertson, the Commonwealth Games
Federation (CGF) vice-president, had claimed that the vote on who will
stage the 2018 competition presents a difficult choice for members with
Hambantota presenting a strong bid that would well match Gold Coast. But
Hambantota 2018 stands a better chance after President Mahinda
Rajapaksa’s inspiring speech at a sports breakfast of the CGF held on
the sidelines of the CHOGM.
While appreciating Australia’s contribution towards the success of
the Commonwealth Games, President Rajapaksa said that hosting the
Commonwealth Games in Hambantota will be a ‘life changing event for many
Sri Lankans’ and that would also inspire 45 other nations who have never
hosted the Games.
Of the 71 CGF countries which would be eligible for a vote each at
Friday’s decisive voting, a minimum of 36 are needed to secure the right
of hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Sri Lanka, which started slowly,
has made a steady progress in winning the confidence of the Commonwealth
member countries and Hambantota 2018 team is confident that they could
secure a majority at the voting. The next Commonwealth Games will be
held in Glasgow in 2014 and Hambantota 2018 is eagerly awaiting to grab
the next chance by polling over 36 votes.
Though Glasgow won the right to hold the Games at a CGF meeting in
Colombo with a good majority of 47 votes to 24, many independent
observers feel that Friday’s voting is going to a close battle.