The harsh lessons learnt from the last Commonwealth games in New Delhi, relating to time and cost overruns, and charges of large-scale corruption, has redefined the manner in which the Commonwealth games federation approaches issues of infrastructure building ahead of the games, members of the evaluation committee of the CGF have said.

An evaluation committee from the Commonwealth Games Secretariat has arrived here to examine, over the next four days, the bid documents and assess the venues that Sri Lanka intends to build for the 2018 Commonwealth games in Hambantota. Two cities in the race to host the 2018 games – the other is Gold Coast, Australia. The games federation has made it clear that its process would be “fair and transparent.”

This is the first evaluation of host cities after the conduct of the 2010 games. The evaluation of the 2014 Glasgow games was held much ahead, and the selection of the venue was announced in Colombo in 2007.

Asked what lessons the Commonwealth games federation took home from New Delhi 2010, CGF chief executive Mike Hooper said: “We will be putting in place mechanisms to ensure that we don’t see similar accounts occur. Every one knows and it’s a matter of public record the number of construction delays in India and in Delhi. Targets came and went and I remember speaking about it very many times in Delhi myself. So I think it really comes down to the oversight process we ourselves put in place.”

Hence, regardless of which city wins the race to host the next games, the CGF is very clear that deadlines will have to be kept. “We will be discussing that with whoever is the successful candidate and ensuring that whatever is put in place is appropriate. Indeed the commitments that have been given, for example, in this candidature, the [Sri Lankan Sports] Minister [Mahindananda Aluthgamage] today and the chairman of the bids committee [Ajith Nivard Cabraal] are very clear that we are not going to see those kinds of issues coming up. We are going to have our facilities and infrastructure in place by 2016,” he added.

Ahead of this, the CGF is now concentrating on examining the bids with a fine comb. “Our role is to undertake a detailed technical review of the bids…and publish it one month ahead of the commonwealth general assembly …The technical merits of the bid is the most important. That makes this process very important,” Louise Martin, Common Wealth Games Evaluating Committee chair, told presspersons here on Monday.

The member countries vote to decide if the games will come back to Asia one more time, or will be held in Australia for a fifth time. Australia is among the four nations that have hosted 17 out of the 20 games held so far.

The head of the Hambantota 2018 organising committee chairman and governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Ajith Nivard Cabraal said that Sri Lanka had chalked out a plan to avoid time overruns and had also given an assurance to this effect to the games federation.