Australia touted its successful track record while Sri Lanka called for an opportunity to transform the nation after decades of civil war when they lodged formal bids on Wednesday to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Australia has hosted the games four times in various cities and wants to send the 2018 event to the glamorous Gold Coast.
Gold Coast bid committee chairman Mark Stockwell said 80 percent of the infrastructure was already in place, but it expects to spend 1.7 billion Australian dollars ($1.8 billion) in public and private funds to build new venues and make other preparations.
Hambantota, also on the coast in southern Sri Lanka, was the only other rival. Central Bank Governor and bid chairman Ajith Nivard Cabraal estimated an investment of 2.5 billion pounds ($4.1 billion) but said a successful bid will bolster Sri Lanka’s recovery from the 2004 tsunami and a 26-year civil war that ended two years ago.
He dismissed concerns that Sri Lanka may face similar problems that marred the 2010 games in New Delhi such as graft, construction of delays and massive cost overruns.
Hambantota has been undergoing major development projects including a new port, international airport and stadium for this year’s cricket World Cup. Most of the facilities, including a games village that will be part of a new university and six new hotels, will be in place by 2016 when Sri Lanka hosts the South Asian Games, he said.
“We will be on budget, on time and quality assured,” Cabraal said. “The Commonwealth Games is going to be life-changing not just for one or two people but for the whole of Sri Lanka. It will give us the opportunity to come out of the difficulties that we have had and to showcase our country.”
With the theme “Together. From the heart,” Hambantota’s presentation depicted its rich culture with dancers in traditional outfits, drummers and singers.
Gold Coast’s bid was presented by a 10-year-old schoolgirl, who highlighted the tourist region’s readiness to host the games and Australia’s promise of a world-class event.
“A successful Gold Coast bid will ensure the games will thrive in new markets and reach younger generations,” said Queensland Premier Anna Bligh. Gold Coast proposes to hold the games in April 2018 during autumn school holidays, she said.
Officials from both countries said they were confident of raising private funds to meet their investment target.
Commonwealth Games Federation Vice President Tunku Imran said the successful bidder for the games, which features countries and states of the former British Empire, will be announced in November.
Glasgow, Scotland will host the 2014 version.
Keywords: 2018 Commonwealth Games