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altOctober 12 - Mike Hooper, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), has said that the race between Australia's Gold Coast and Sri Lanka's Hambantota to host the 2018 event is one of the most exciting ever.

The battle has now entered the final stages with less than a month to go until the 71 Commonwealth nations and territories gather decide on who will host the event at the CGF General Assembly on November 11 in St Kitts and Nevis.

Hooper was part of the five-person Evaluation Commission that inspected both the Gold Coast and Hambantota earlier this year before publishing the 144-page report on the two bidding cities that was sent to all of the CGF's 71-member nations and territories to help inform them of the technical merits of each proposal.

He said that the fact that the bids are so entirely different has helped to make this such an exciting race.

"We have two very different bids as we outlined in our evaluation commission report earlier this year," Hooper told insidethegames.

"When you look at Hambantota, it is certainly an exciting proposition with the unique masterplan that they have put forward.

"There are obviously logistical challenges, which the team in Sri Lanka have acknowledged themselves, but there can be no questioning of the level of commitment from our friends in Hambantota to deliver on the promises they have made.

"In the Gold Coast, we have a lot of existing infrastructure and facilities and certainly the foundations for a great event in 2018.

"There is clearly slightly less risk with the Gold Coast bid but you cannot really draw comparisons between the two as they are totally different bids.

"Ultimately, it our 71 member nations and territories that will decide and it is for them to make the assessment call on which direction they want to take the Commonwealth Games.

"We will find out on November 11 but this has certainly been one of the most exciting contests we have had for the Commonwealth Games and I'm sure that the excitement will continue right up to the vote itself."

altThe announcement of the decision at the St Kitts Marriott Resort is set to be made at 18:00 Local Time by CGF President Mike Fennell (pictured right).

The announcement will be Fennell's last act as President as the Jamaican will step down straight after the CGF General Assembly and become a life vice-president of the organisation.

Current CGF vice-president Prince Tunku Imran of Malaysia is set to take up the role of Presidency, as he is the only candidate standing for election for the position in St Kitts and Nevis.

A live internet feed of the decision will be available on the CGF's website at www.thecgf.com, while the General Assembly will be the first time ever that an electronic vote has taken place for the Commonwealth Games.

Hooper says he is looking forward to the introduction of the electronic voting system despite the fact that there have been major failures with the process, perhaps most notably at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Congress in Daegu in August when votes had to be farcically be re-run after technical problems.

"We are aware of some problems with the electronic voting system at other international sporting bodies but that is not a major concern for us," said Hooper.

"We have tested our thoroughly technology for the vote next month but obviously we will have a Plan B if necessary.

"The electronic system is certainly more efficient and timelier and we have done a lot of research on the matter so we are confident it will work.

"There is a lot involved with the technology and obviously we are doing a live broadcast of the vote at the same time but we have everything in place and I think the new electronic system will be nice addition to the General Assembly and help add to the drama as the votes come in."

Source: www.insidethegames.biz

By Tom Degun