By Tom Degun in St Kitts and Nevis

Gold Coast_crowds_celebrate_being_awarded_2018_Commonwealth_GamesNovember 11 - The Gold Coast have been awarded the 2018 Commonwealth Games after holding off sole rivals Hambantota of Sri Lanka here at the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly.

The city was chosen following an intense battle by the 70 Commonwealth Games nations and territories in attendance who cast one vote each via an electronic voting system.

They won handsomely by 43 votes to 27.

CGF President Mike Fennell of Jamaica made the announcement in what was his final official act in the position following a 17-year reign that now sees him handover to Prince Tunku Imran of Malaysia.

As Fennell dramatically read out the name of winning bid at the St Kitts Marriott Resort, the Gold Coast bid team, led by chairman Mark Stockwell, erupted into celebration, while Hambantota were left looking completely crestfallen.

Gold Coast 2018 will mark the fifth time that Australia has hosted the Commonwealth Games, with the country having previously staged the competition in 1938, 1962, 1982 and 2006.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh was delighted at the clinch, which she says could generate up to $2 billion in economic benefits for the city.

"Congratulations to the Gold Coast, to Queensland and Australia – we did it!" said Bligh.

"Our united community welcomes these games.

"In 2018 we will be ready to host a unique world class and friendly event that builds on the Commonwealth brand and enhances our city's reputation.

"This city will be transformed with new infrastructure and a buzz that only a big international event like this can bring."

The Premier also said the successful bid to host the games would mean infrastructure upgrades including increasing the capacity of Metricon stadium from 25,000 to 40,000 seats, a new badminton and mountain bike facilities, a world class squash complex, the development of the Coomera Sports and Leisure Centre and upgrades to the Broadbeach Bowls Club, Gold Coast Hockey Centre and the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.

"Ever since I picked up the phone to the President of the Commonwealth Games Association Mr Sam Coffa during the Beijing Olympics to suggest our Games bid I knew the Gold Coast was in with a chance," Bligh said.

"Today we hit the bullseye - 2018 is the Gold Coast's time to shine!"

Bligh paid tribute to Sri Lanka's bid city Hambantota.

"Make no mistake, this was a tough contest and all Queenslanders should be thrilled with the result," she said.

"These games will bring superb tourism opportunities for the Gold Coast and for Queensland.

"The Games will also act as a catalyst to fast track infrastructure development.

"We will see new sporting facilities, improved transport and a new Health and Knowledge precinct adjacent to the $1.76 billion Gold Coast University Hospital.

"We have made a promise to the Commonwealth Games Federation and will deliver on this promise."

Gold Coast_2018_officials_celebrate_being_awarded_Commonwealth_Games
Stockwell said the whole bid team is overjoyed with the result.

"Thank you to everyone that contributed to the bid and this outstanding result, it was a collective effort and one that Gold Coasters, Queenslanders and all Australians should be very proud of," he said.

"The Games will put the spotlight on the Gold Coast, and whilst we don't want to lose our 'famous for fun' character, we do need to reinforce our capabilities as a serious business community with strengths across a number of diverse industries.

"A lot of very hard work went into the bid but it doesn't stop there – we need to put the same amount of energy and passion in to prepare and deliver the very best event the Commonwealth has ever known."

"Congratulations Gold Coast – let the Games preparations begin."

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