September 21 - A Trans-Tasman row has broken out between Auckland and the Gold Coast over the 2018 Commonwealth Games with former 10,000 metres world record holder Ron Clarke (pictured) in the middle of it.

Clarke, now the Mayor of the Gold Coast, is angry at New Zealand claims that the Australian city is dropping its bid for the Games so that Auckland has a better chance of being chosen.

He said: "We've got a better climate and better credentials [than Auckland].

"Somebody wrote to me to say thanks us for pulling out but the Gold Coast will not be stepping aside."

The row has been ignited by John Banks, the Mayor of Auckland, who has claimed that Queensland has told him they will scrap their bid.

But Queensland's acting Premier Paul Lucas has dismissed the claim.

He said: "I couldn't think of a better place in the entire Commonwealth that has the advantage of having top facilities, a combined Gold Coast/Brisbane population almost the same size as New Zealand itself and is a tourism mecca.

"Of course Auckland wants us to withdraw - the Gold Coast is the front-runner.

"I've got news for them - it's a race we intend to win.

"Gold Coast, with a population equal to Tasmania, is the only non-capital city in Australia that has the capacity to host this event.

"Judging by the number of Kiwis on the Gold Coast I think there would be broad support in New Zealand for the Gold Coast Games bid as well."

Premier Anna Bligh is due lead a trade mission from Queensland to India early next month to meet officials from the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and to formally present their bid.

Other cities expected to bid are Abuja, the Nigerian capital beaten by Glasgow for the right to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Nairobi in Kenya and Durban in South Africa.

Bob Gordon, the chairman of the Gold Coast bid, has dismissed the bid from Auckland, who hosted the 1990 Commonwealth Games, because he claims it lacks the facilities needed.

He said: "They've don't have the accommodation.

"What they're going to have to do is lease cruise ships from Europe to go down there.

"Their harbour is a poor imitation of Sydney Harbour."

Banks refused to comment.

Related stories
September 2009: Fraser backs Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bid
June 2009: Gold Coast has exclusive rights for 2018 Commonwealth Games
April 2009: Australia changes mind to bid for 2018 Commonwealth Games
April 2009: Queensland Premier backs Commonwealth Games bid
April 2009: Australian bid for 2018 Commonwealth Games may be back on