By Tom Degun

rom clarke_24-10-11October 23 - Gold Coast mayor Ron Clarke (pictured) is emphasising the potential legacy benefits to the Australian city of hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games, with less than a month to go until the vote on where the competition is to be staged.

The Gold Coast is bidding against Hambantota, in Sri Lanka, for the right to stage the event and the 71 Commonwealth nations and territories will cast their votes at the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly, in St Kitts and Nevis, on November 11.

Hambantota was praised earlier this year by the CGF evaluation commission for being "visionary, exciting and unique" because they have put major emphasis on legacy.

They are planning to build a futuristic Sports City for the competition in what would be one of the most compact Commonwealth Games concept designs ever developed.

Namal Rajapaksa, MP for the Hambantota district and son of Sri Lanka's President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, claimed the Games could generate up to $8 billion (£5 billion/€5.75 billion) for the economy and create around 100,000 jobs in the region.

However, the Gold Coast Mayor says CGF delegates must remember there would also be huge legacy benefits for his city if it was to host the 2018 Games.

"There may be perceptions among some delegates that, while we may want to host the Games, we already have almost all the necessary infrastructure in place," said Clarke.

"The reality is that, should our bid be successful, not only will our community benefit from $2 billion (£1.25 billion/€1.5 billion) in economic investment, 30,000 new jobs and more than $500 million (£314 million/€360 million) worth of new transport and sporting infrastructure, but the social legacy for the city will be profound.

"We have such a young multicultural city that hosting a great Games would inspire and unite our community.

"Our bid has ignited the passion and pride of the people, and the Adopt a Commonwealth Country programme has been so enthusiastically received in our local schools.

"Hosting the Games would create wonderful engagement opportunities for our young people to connect and create lasting bonds with young people from other Commonwealth countries.

"We are a passionate sporting city and the level of community passion and support for our bid has been overwhelming - the atmosphere for athletes competing here at a Gold Coast Commonwealth Games would truly be electric."

gold coast_24-10-11
Clarke is widely known across Australia as one of the world's best middle- and long-distance runners during the 1960s, and he also lit the Olympic Flame at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games.

He won Olympic bronze at the Tokyo 1964 Games and four Commonwealth Games silver medals across three editions of the competition.

The 74-year-old is now playing a prominent role in the Gold Coast 2018 bid and will be at the CGF General Assembly in St Kitts and Nevis, where the Australian city will host a dinner for delegates before the final vote takes place.

"I want them [the delegates] to know we do not take anything for granted," he said.

"We are absolutely passionate about the Games and hosting them would represent a coming-of-age for Gold Coast city [pictured, above].

"During my visit to St Kitts and Nevis for the host city announcement on November 11, I will be taking every opportunity to reinforce this message to each and every delegate."

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