By Tom Degun in Colombo

Mahindananda_AluthgamageJune 29 - Sri Lankan Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage (pictured), the co-chairman of the Hambantota 2018 bid for the Commonwealth Games, has claimed Sri Lanka will definitely have all venues for the 2018 competition ready by 2016 if their bid is successful and insisted that there is no reason to believe otherwise.

Due to the close proximity of Sri Lanka to India, the Hambantota 2018 bid has been compared to the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games last October, which faced major problems in a well-documented struggle to be ready in time to host the competition.

In particular there have also been eyebrows raised that only one potential 2018 Commonwealth Games venue - the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium which is down to host the 2018 Opening and Closing Ceremonies - has so far been completed with all other venues to be built between 2014-2016.

But Aluthgamage has said that Sri Lanka cannot be compared to Delhi and will unequivocally deliver on their promises.

"We will definitely be ready by 2016 when Hambantota hosts the South Asian Games, two years ahead of the Games in 2018," the Sri Lankan Sports Minister told insidethegames.

"We showed what we can do when we staged the Cricket World Cup earlier this year.

"We delivered in style, right on time, even when we had to stage four extra matches at short notice [after co-hosts Pakistan lost the right to stage matches due to security fears following the aftermath of the 2009 gun attack on the Sri Lanka national cricket team bus in Lahore].

"Please do not confuse us with other countries who have failed to deliver on what they have promised.

"We are not like other countries.

"We are Sri Lanka and we always deliver.

"We have promised to have the venues finished by 2016 and so they will be finished by 2016.

"Each venue will be financed and owned by the Government to guarantee use and control, and with so much support and planning we will not fail."

Aluthgamage is currently playing a key role for Sri Lanka as the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Evaluation Commission carry out their four-day inspection of the bid following the same inspection of the Gold Coast in Australia last week, who are Hambantota's only rivals for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The Commission, chaired by Scotland's Louise Martin, are spending the majority of their time in Colombo for a series of presentations, including one with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, but yesterday flew to Hambantota to see where the venues will be built as well as other key locations such as the new international airport and new seaport which are both currently under construction.

Hambantota has claimed huge support for the bid with a recent survey from The Nielsen Company claiming that 87 per cent of those asked were fully or somewhat supportive of the event, with 63 per cent being fully supportive.

These results have been criticised by controversial opposition UNP MP Harsha de Silva who has claimed that the questions in the survey have been set up by Hambantota 2018 chief executive Nalin Attygalle so that they "misrepresent reality", but the Hambantota 2018 bid team have claimed to insidethegames that they see the attack as little more than a "publicity stunt".

Meanwhile the location of the 2018 event is set to be decided at the CGF General Assembly on November 11 in St Kitts and Nevis.

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