09 November 2011 – The team behind Sri Lanka’s Hambantota 2018 bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games has brought its own blend of island charm and carnival to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) summit on the Caribbean island of St Kitts.
With just two days until the vote to decide whether Hambantota or Australia’s Gold Coast is to host the 2018 Games, Sri Lanka is preparing to make what could be a crucial final presentation. But among the hard work that has seen the bid go from outsider to real contender, a 60-strong delegation has been equally determined to showcase the vibrant atmosphere that awaits athletes and fans alike in 2018 should what has been dubbed ‘the life-changing bid’ be successful.
Speaking last night as he welcomed CGF delegates to a gala dinner featuring traditional Sri Lankan music and dancing, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Hambantota 2018 Organising Committee Co-Chairman, said: “We want to show that as well as delivering a visionary, exciting, unique and technically strong bid, a successful Commonwealth Games in Hambantota will also be great fun.
“In Sri Lanka we know how to party. We will ensure, if selected as the host city for the 2018 Games, that our opening and closing ceremonies capture all of this excitement and tradition in a way that highlights the diversity of our culture and embraces the vitality of our society. We have spoken of the Games being a life-changing experience for our unified nation and people. But it also promises to be a once in a lifetime experience for all we look forward to welcoming in 2018.”
Cabraal, also Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, also hosted beach barbeques for delegates and the Commonwealth family with traditional dance displays, drummers and acrobats. He said he wants to encourage a celebratory, ‘festival mood’ ahead of the vote on Friday.
“Athletes and visitors coming to Sri Lanka will experience not only state of the art venues and facilities but also a colourful carnival atmosphere they will always remember,” he added. “Sri Lanka’s ancient civilisation has endowed the country with a legacy of colourful festivals. Our people are famous for their smiles and we want everyone to share our joy in hosting the Games in 2018. We look forward to welcoming our friends to Hambantota in our own special way.”
Hon. Namal Rajapaksa, son of the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Member of Parliament for Hambantota District, meanwhile welcomed guests to Hambantota’s hospitality suite. The centrepiece of the room is a scale model of the ‘Sports City’ that will house 90 percent of the venues. The CGF calls it one of the most compact Commonwealth Games concept designs ever developed.
Praised by the CGF Evaluation Commission for being ‘visionary, exciting and unique’ and meeting every single technical requirement, the Hambantota 2018 bid has wowed delegations from the Caribbean & Americas, Africa, Europe, Oceania and Asia. With the result of its endeavours looming, the momentum is now behind a bid backed by an overwhelming 87 percent of the Sri Lankan population (99 percent in Hambantota itself).
The decision will be announced by outgoing CGF President Mike Fennell on the penultimate day of the CGF general assembly in St Kitts & Nevis this Friday 11 November at 18:00 local time. It will be his last official act as CGF President after 17 years in the role, before handing over to HRH Prince Tunku Imran. For more information on Hambantota 2018 visit: www.hambantota2018.com