November 12 - Hambantota 2018 bid co-chairman Ajith Nivard Cabraal has offered his congratulations to the Gold Coast after they secured the right to stage the 2018 Commonwealth Games yesterday evening and hinted that Sri Lanka may well bid for the event again in the future.
The Australian city defeated their Sri Lankan rivals after the 70 voting delegates at the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly here voted by 43 votes to 27 in favour of the Gold Coast.
The margin of victory was wider that many predicted in what was a fascinating contest throughout but Cabraal, who is also the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, was humble in defeat.
He praised Gold Coast 2018 chairman Mark Stockwell and said that the process of bidding will undoubtedly benefit Hambantota, who are set to build the majority of the sporting venues in the region despite the defeat.
"Congratulations to Mark and his team, I am sure they will host a fantastic event in 2018," said Cabraal.
"It is disappointing of course that we will not see a Hambantota Games in 2018.
"But we have said all along that bidding for these prestigious Games is a key part of an exciting and progressive journey in Sri Lanka."
Cabraal - pictured above with Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, CGF chief executive Mike Hooper and new CGF President Prince Tunku Imran - also suggested that Sri Lanka is likely to return to bid for event in the future.
"Our story will boost tourism because images of our culture, history, stunning scenery and beaches and the friendliness of our people has been shown around the world," he said.
"But perhaps most importantly, our reputation has been enhanced because we have demonstrated our determination to build, further reconcile and unify our nation with for example a massive investment programme in infra-structure and new projects over the next five years.
"I am absolutely certain that by putting forward such a credible bid we have increased our chances of attracting sporting and other international events to Sri Lanka and indeed we already have done so with the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit coming to Sri Lanka in two years' time."
The decision was announced by outgoing CGF President Mike Fennell of Jamaica.
It was his last official act as CGF President after 17 years in the role, handing over to Prince Imran.
Fennell had previously said that he felt very happy that the Commonwealth Games had reached a stage where it could attract "two superb bids like these".
Cabraal added: "I must add that I am proud that the Gold Coast and ourselves have given Mike a candidature contest befitting of his final act as CGF President.
"Such a strong and exciting contest shows just how far the Commonwealth Games has come under his reign."
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