October 11 - Former Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke, who played a key role in helping the city secure the 2018 Commonwealth Games, claims he is concerned that the event will be mostly staged in nearby Brisbane, the capital of Queensland.
The 75-year-old former runner, who won medals at the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, was one of the Gold Coast's most visible ambassadors in its bid for the event and his presence at the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly in St Kitts and Nevis last November played a decisive factor in helping his city hold off sole rivals Hambantota of Sri Lanka by 43 votes to 27 in the final vote.
He stepped down as Gold Coast Mayor earlier this year but admitted, with the State Government and Council reluctant to spend much money on the Commonwealth Games, events could be moved to the bigger city of Brisbane, which already has an impressive sporting infrastructure in place.
"It's a black mark when you can't stage your own Games and that's the way it's going," said Clarke.
"If the swimming goes to Brisbane it's virtually the ruin of the Games.
"You can do some sports elsewhere but once you put the major sports in the capital city, the Gold Coast becomes an appendage rather than the main venue.
"It splits it between two major cities and the bulk will be up in Brisbane, not the Gold Coast."
But despite Clarke's comments, Australia's Commonwealth Games Minister Jann Stuckey has looked to calm fears.
"There has been some speculation and a lot of misinformation in the paper," she told a budget estimates committee.
"Absolutely no changes have or are being considered about which city will host the Commonwealth Games events.
"Ron should stop speculating and let us get on with planning the best Games the world has seen."
But many in the Gold Coast are not reassured by Stuckey's words, including one of the area's leading journalists, Daniel Meers.
"Brisbane should start getting excited about the 2018 Commonwealth Games because it will be hosting it," he wrote in a piece titled "We want our Games back".
"Make no mistake, the River City is poised to take over the event we secured because it has infrastructure in place and we don't.
"Premier Campbell Newman privately does not want the Commonwealth Games.
"Had he been Premier at the time of the bid he would not have pushed as hard for it.
"Anna Bligh [the former Premier who spearheaded the Gold Coast bid] was an events-focused Premier; Campbell Newman wants to get the budget back in the black."
Meers also criticised Stuckey directly.
"Stuckey is far from a heavyweight minister and is battling to keep her job," he said.
"Yet Mr Newman gave her what should be an important portfolio.
"Clearly he doesn't rate the Commonwealth Games portfolio highly."
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