The Australian Gold Coast has won the bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth games, beating Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse’s hometown of Hambantota.
The decision was made at a meeting of the Commonwealth nations on the Caribbean Island of St Kitts this morning, with the Gold Coast gathering 43 votes and Hambantota only managing 27.
A Commonwealth Games Federation Evaluation Commission also stated that the Gold Coast was a “low risk” venue for the games, while Hambantota was “medium to high risk”.
The report went on to say that “the majority of telecommunications infrastructure required for the Games venues does not currently exist”, acknowledging that Hambantota does not currently have an international airport and only 1009 accommodation rooms.
It will come as a bitter blow for the Sri Lankans who were reported to have paid British firm Pmplegacy, owned by Chime Communications, $2.3 million for PR work for the bid.
Also flown to St Kitts were former cricket players Aravinda de Silva and Muttiah Muralitharan.
Earlier Muralitharan had made an impassioned plea to the Commonwealth, likening the 2013 bid to the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. He said both events were a chance to unite the respective countries, and even compared Mahinda Rajapakse to Nelson Mandela.
The Sri Lankans threw an elaborate dinner party atthe Marriott Hotel two days before the decision was made, having sent a 60-member delegation to the Caribbean including former actresses, Miss Sri Lanka winners, Central Bank governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, who heads the country's bid and the President’s son MP Namal Rajapakse.
After the dinner party, Mr Cabraal stated,
"Tonight could not have gone better. We proved that not only could Sri Lanka host the Games -- but that we could do it in style."
"I have a feeling that we will win."
The 2014 Games will be held in Glasgow, Scotland.