By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

April 25 - The first meeting between the Gold Coast and Hambantota, the cities bidding for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which was due to take place this week, has been postponed due to the continuing problems caused by the volcanic ash that disrupted air travel all over Europe earlier this month. 

Representatives from the candidate cities were due to travel to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) headquarters in London for an orientation seminar but it has now been cancelled because of fears that they would not be able to make it.

A spokesman for the CGF told insidethegames: "The meeting was deferred as a consequence of the volcanic disruption of flights and we are currently coordinating with all involved to find a suitable replacement date."

But the Gold Coast's bid has already been boosted by the promise of a dozen votes from the Oceanic nations, who claim that hosting the event in Australia would create less security fears.

The pledge of the support came from the Oceania Commonwealth Games regional vice-president Tapasu Leung Ming Wai.

He said: "We had a meeting in Fiji a few weeks ago where there was talk about the Gold Coast bid and supporting the idea.

"We see it as a bid on behalf of Oceania.

"Logistically it is closer to us than Sri Lanka and we would support it security-wise."

Australian Commonwealth Games Association chief executive Perry Crosswhite claimed that the 12 votes of Oceania, which includes Samoa, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, was a major step toward getting the 36 votes needed to clinch the Games.

Crosswhite said: "We are full-steam ahead looking at the strategy and politics now and getting people who are going to support us in November 2011 at the General Assembly when the vote happens."

Crosswhite is not taking anything for granted, however.

He said: "There are six regions in the Commonwealth and we would hope to get strong support from Europe, the Americas and Caribbean.

"I expect Asia will have some sympathy for Sri Lanka."

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