November 7 - A 60-strong Sri Lankan delegation have arrived at in St Kitts and Nevis to attend the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly, where they will discover on Friday (November 11) whether their bid to host the 2018 Games has been successful.
The large team is spearheaded by Namal Rajapaksa, the MP for the Hambantota District and son of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and includes several other high profile individuals, most notably former cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan, the most successful bowler in the history of Test cricket.
They include Sri Lanka's Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage and Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Ajith Nivard Cabraal, co-chairman of Hambantota 2018, and Hemasiri Fernando, President of the Sri Lanka National Olympic Committee.
Aluthgamage will the voters to take the event to Sri Lanka for the first time ever to help expand the Commonwealth Games Movement.
"It is not only large and advanced economies that should be considered as host cities of major events," said Aluthgamage.
"A key ambition of our bid is to inspire other island, developing and emerging nations - and their people – throughout the Commonwealth."
The likes of Aluthgamage and the young Rajapaksa is a particular boost for the Hambantota bid as it shows high-ranking political support for the bid right from the very top which is something that has been praised by the CGF.
This is matched by overwhelming public support with 87 per cent of the Sri Lankan population backing the bid.
"We want to share our enthusiasm for these Games and show that other countries can get involved," said Cabraal.
"The Hambantota 2018 bid will also give huge encouragement to the other 61 nations that have never hosted the Games and may wish to do so."
Rivals Gold Coast, however, will be hoping to scupper Hambantota's hopes and have themselves bought a high-powered delegation to the Caribbean, led by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh.
The Gold Coast 2018 team in the Caribbean also includes the bid chairman Mark Stockwell, chief executive Mark Peters and Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke, the legendary long-distance runner who lit the Olympic Flame at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games before later winning Olympic bronze at the Tokyo 1964 Games and four Commonwealth Games silver medals across three editions of the competition.
The announcement of the 2018 Commonwealth Games host city will be made by CGF President Mike Fennell of Jamaica at St Kitts Marriott Resort at 6pm Local Time following final presentations from the two bidding cities.
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