By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year
October 3 - The Gold Coast's hopes of hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games have been boosted after its only rival, Sri Lanka's Hambantota, failed to take the opportunity of giving a presentation to the voters at a special meeting attended by Prince Edward.
A delegation from the Gold Coast, led by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and bid chairman Mark Stockwell, made a 20 minute presentation to the 71 countries and territories of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) in New Delhi.
Edward, the vice-patron of the CGF, was among whose who listened as Bligh set out details of the Gold Coast's bid, which included building four new stadiums at a cost of $500 million (£306 million).
She claimed that the controversy that has overshadowed the build-up to this year's Commonweatlh Games in New Delhi had not dampened enthusiasm for the Gold Coast's bid in Australia, who hosted the 2006 event in Melbourne.
"If we secure them for the Gold Coast, I have no doubt that Australians will get behind it, that they'll really enjoy the lead-up to the bid," said Bligh.
"We grew into an international class city after those Games and we know from experience that the 2018 Games - which would be the first held in a regional city should the Gold Coast be successful - are the ideal platform for the Coast to transform itself into even bigger and better things.
"We have been able today to show the Commonwealth delegates why the Gold Coast is truly up to the task."
Bligh claimed that she and her team, who also included Federal Sports Minister Mark Arbib and Gold Coast 2018 chief executive Mark Peters, did not believe that Delhi's problems had damaged the Commonwealth Games brand.
"I think it's far too early to judge the Delhi Games," she said.
"And I think that if we see the venues all perform to their best and we see our athletes have a great sporting competition then the ultimate view of the Delhi Games might be very different in two weeks' time than it is today.
"While I think the last couple of weeks have been very anxious for them and for athletes and their families, there's a real sense here over the past couple of days that this can be a great Games and that's what the Federation is focused on,"
But Bligh refused to rule out the chances of Hambantota, a port city with a population of only 11,000 but which is at the centre of a massive investment programme by China.
"I think there will be in the minds of many voting delegates a view that countries like Sri Lanka should be given the opportunity to host a Commonwealth Games," Bligh said.
"That's exactly the same reason Sri Lanka wants the Games and they're a country that's emerging out of a very strife-torn history."
Bligh admitted, though, she was disappointed not to learn more about Hambantota's bid.
"I was looking forward to getting a glimpse of what the opposition's [bid] was like what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are and how to counter that,'" she said.
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June 2010: Sri Lankan Commonwealth Games bid being boosted by China and India
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