By Tom Degun

Ron Clarke_in_front_of_Gold_Coast_2018_logoFebruary 22 - Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke (pictured), the former middle and long-distance athletics star who played a major role in helping the Australian city win the right to stage the 2018 Commonwealth Games, has called for the Gold Coast City Council to have a greater role in planning and staging the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The 75-year-old from Victoria, who is set to step down as Gold Coast Mayor this year, was a key figure throughout the 2018 bid campaign and his presence at the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly in St Kitts in November played a decisive factor in helping his city hold off sole rivals Hambantota of Sri Lanka by 43 votes to 27.

But Clarke feels that the Gold Coast City Council need to be more involved in the planning for the event as the State Government have so far failed to offer a say on planning, despite the City Council having committed around $234 million (£158 million/€188 million) to competition.

The City Council fears that the project is quickly becoming "Brisbane-centric" despite being held on the Gold Coast and, in a letter to Premier Anna Bligh, Clarke has asked for his successor as Mayor to play a senior role in helping stage the Games and has also requested a City Council representative on the Commonwealth Games Corporation Board.

"The Gold Coast is very enthusiastic about the Games and it is only fair that it is included in the decision-making processes," said Clarke, who won Olympic bronze at the Tokyo 1964 Games and four Commonwealth Games silver medals across three separate competitions.

"What we are saying is the Gold Coast has made, and will make, a pretty substantial contribution to the Commonwealth Games.

"We have committed $234 million (£158 million/€188 million) in cash and in kind over the period.

"With all the contribution made, we have no representation.

"This is something that is happening in our back yard and we would like a say."

Clarke has received high profile backing in his ambition from Gold Coast 2018 Organising Committee chairman Mark Stockwell, who said he was encouraged that the Council wanted a say in the project.

"I think the Gold Coast City Council needs to play a role at every city-making level," said Stockwell, who spearheaded the Gold Coast's successful bid for the event.

The Gold Coast City Council are also adamant that there must be a lasting infrastructure legacy from the Games and they are currently drafting a Games legacy investment report that will ultimately require support from the Government and the private sector.

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The City Council chief executive Dale Dickson admitted that the 2018 Commonwealth Games is the best opportunity to unite the city and help invest in the Gold Coast for the future.

"This is an opportunity to galvanise the city like never before," Dickson said.

"But we want to make sure it is a Games that leaves a legacy on the Gold Coast.

"This is an opportunity for people to become involved; to become citizens, not residents."

Dickson highlighted the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games as an example of a major sporting event that the Gold Coast should learn from.

As part of the preparations for the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver extended its light rail from Vancouver International Airport to downtown Vancouver while roads were upgraded and its convention centre expanded.

Dickson feels the Gold Coast must do something similar as he feels that the Winter Olympics are comparable in size to the Commonwealth Games.

"Vancouver is a great example of a city that has benefited from a Games," he said.

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