Australia’s Gold Coast got the nod to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games after the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) cast its vote in the Caribbean nation of St Kitts & Nevis on Friday evening (Saturday morning SA time).
Gold Coast saw CGF delegates opted for its ready-made facilities ahead of the ambitious development plans of the Sri Lankan city of Hambantota, reports Associated Press. Earlier at the Congress, South Africa’s Gideon Sam was voted in as one of the two vice-presidents.
The 70 members of the Commonwealth Games Federation meeting in this Caribbean nation voted 43-27 to award the 21st edition of the games to Australia for the fifth time, denying Sri Lanka’s hopes of hosting its first.
The strength of Gold Coast’s bid was its access to existing sporting facilities and good infrastructure, while Hambantota, in an area devastated by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, promised new stadiums, an international airport and other infrastructure by 2016.
“The hard work has paid off,” said Anna Bligh, Queensland’s premier. “The Commonwealth Games is one of the most significant sporting games in the world.”
About 90 kilometres south of Brisbane and with a population of around 540 000, Gold Coast is the first regional Australian city to host the games, following the state capitals of Sydney in 1938, Perth in 1962, Brisbane in 1982 and Melbourne in 2006.
“It was a close contest. A lot of delegates I talked to were really torn,” said Mark Stockwell, a former Commonwealth Games swimming champion and Gold Coast bid chairman. “I hope that Sri Lanka will put their hand up again.”
New Delhi hosted the 2010 games and Glasgow is scheduled to stage the event in 2014.
The competing bids made their final, 30-minute presentations to delegates immediately before Friday’s vote.
Hambantota hoped to be just the third Asian host, following Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1998 and New Delhi, and offered the Commonwealth Games Federation a chance to take its flagship event to new ground.
The Sri Lankan government bankrolled the Hambantota bid, hoping to use the games as a catalyst to develop a new economic and sporting hub for its Southern Province which was devastated by the 2004 tsunami.
The Gold Coast games will encompass the core Commonwealth Games sports of athletics, badminton, boxing, hockey, lawn bowls, netball, rugby sevens, squash, swimming and weightlifting and seven optional sports which will likely include basketball, shooting, table tennis, cycling, gymnastics, triathlon and wrestling.