By Tom Degun in Colombo

Hambantota_2018_logo_newJune 26 - A survey among 2,600 people in all nine provinces of Sri Lanka has indicated huge nationwide support from all regions for Hambantota's bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The survey was undertaken as a part of the bidding process and was conducted among males and females aged 14 to 70-years-old earlier this year by leading global information and measurement organisation The Nielsen Company.

When asked how supportive they were of Hambantota's bid, 87 per cent of those asked were fully or somewhat supportive of the event, with 63 per cent being fully supportive.

In the Hambantota district, a huge 99 per cent were supportive, with 86 per cent fully supportive of the bid.

It provides a major boost to the Sri Lankan coastal city ahead of their critical four-day technical inspection from the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Evaluation Commission which begins tomorrow, which will be based mainly here in the Sri Lankan capital. 

The Commission, chaired by Scotland's Louise Martin, have just completed their inspection of Hambantota's only 2018 Commonwealth Games rivals the Gold Coast and given the Australian city here huge praise following the visit.

But Hambantota will be confident of showcasing their 2018 Commonwealth Games credentials to the Commission after the survey results were published.

"Many of those surveyed felt that the Games would result in Sri Lanka being highly regarded by people from across the world," said a Hambantota 2018 statement.

"It was also felt that the Games would bring in tourism opportunities for the country as well as being a channel for Sri Lanka to showcase its sporting talent.

"A likely reason for this unprecedented popular backing for the Hambantota Games is the strong interest that Sri Lankans have in sports.

"Nine out of ten [92 per cent] said they were interested in sports, with 43 per cent saying they were very interested."

Meanwhile over 90 per cent of those asked felt that Sri Lanka would be able to provide adequate security for the Games and a similar number felt that the event would be a platform for Sri Lanka to benefit from tourism and for Hambantota to be a destination for hosting global sporting events.

Following their inspection of Hambantota, the five-man Commission will produce a final Evaluation report for voting delegates, likely to be published this September.

This will play a key role in deciding where the 2018 Commonwealth Games are staged when the vote for them takes place at the GCF General Assembly on November 11 in St Kitts and Nevis.

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