By Tom Degun in St Kitts and Nevis

prince tunku_imran_14-11-11November 14 - Prince Tunku Imran (pictured), the new Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President, has revealed he is hopeful that as many nations as possible will come forward to bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The influential Malaysian replaced Jamaica's Mike Fennell as CGF President here at the organisation's recent General Assembly, in a gathering that also saw Australia's Gold Coast defeat sole rivals Hambantota of Sri Lanka for the right to stage the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The 70 voting delegates in attendance in St Kitts and Nevis voted by 43 votes to 27 in favour of the Gold Coast meaning that Australia will now host the competition for the fifth time.

But despite Sri Lanka missing out on the chance to stage the competition for the first time ever, Prince Imran said that he wants to take the prestigious event to virgin territories in the future and feels that Hambantota would be very strong bidders for 2022 if they keep their promise of building sporting venues in the region despite the loss.

"2018 was a very good bid race, which was great to see, but I think at the end of the day, the membership simply looked at the risk factor and saw that the Gold Coast was far lower risk than Hambantota's medium to high risk, just as the Evaluation Commission had reported earlier this year" the 63-year-old told insidethegames.

"Of course I would like to see Hambantota return in 2022 because I think they would be able to put up a real fight for the competition once again.

"I think Hambantota, if they do what they said will do in terms of developing the area and creating the Sports City within the time lines that they have indicated, can be an extremely strong bidder in 2022.

"But I'd also like to see many other countries and cities bid in 2022 because we want really do want to take the Commonwealth Games to new places when they are ready.

"Many Commonwealth countries haven't had that confidence to bid like Malaysia did for the 1998 event and Delhi did for the 2010 event.

"But there are a number of Commonwealth cities and countries I can think of that have never bid before but that could do the Games very, very well.

"Singapore and South Africa are two obvious examples."

Singapore may be encouraged to bid especially after the success of last year's Summer Youth Olympic Games (pictured), which was attended by more than 3,500 athletes from 205 countries. 

Singapore 2010_Opening_Ceremony
Other countries that may put forward candidates are England and New Zealand.

Prince Imran, who is also President of the Olympic Council of Malaysia and an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, takes over from Fennell (pictured left), who was in the role for 17 years, and the Malaysian has praised the contribution of his predecessor.

"Mike Fennell has done a brilliant job as the leader of the Commonwealth Games Movement for a long period," he said.

"That will never be forgotten.

"But I feel that this is now the time for a major review of where we are going moving forwards.

"I am obviously new as the CGF President but I have served for 11 years as vice-president so it is not as if I don't know the federation and its workings.

"We have already taken our first steps in the review process and we hope at our General Assembly next year in Uganda that we will have a full strategy with regards to the Commonwealth Games in terms of its governance, structure, sports programme and in terms of how we handle international federations and engage with all of our stakeholders."

Professionally, Prince Imran is a qualified barrister, company chairman and director, while he has also held a number of high-ranking positions in world sport, including the Presidency of the World Squash Federation (WSF) from 1989 to 1996.

In addition, he was an executive board member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) from 1997 to 1999 and again from 2001 to 2008 and while he says his other various positions are not imperative in his role as CGF President, he says they are certainly a benefit in helping the Commonwealth stay connected with other major international sports organisations.

"I think things like my IOC membership are useful rather than crucial," Prince Imran explained.

"Anyone can be President of the Commonwealth Games Federation as long as they have the commitment and dedication to do the job.

"But obviously having connections like being in the IOC, being on the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS), being formally involved in other international federations like squash and cricket, does certainly help us stay connected with the world of sport."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
November 2011: Hambantota may bid again for Commonwealth Games after Gold Coast defeat
November 2011: Gold Coast awarded 2018 Commonwealth Games