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Posted: Wednesday 9 November, 2011 at 9:15 AM

Sri Lanka confident of winning 2018 Commonwealth Games bid

Hemasiri Fernando
By: Terresa McCall,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – THREE days into the bidding process for the hosting of the 2018 Commonwealth Games and candidate city Hambantota, Sri Lanka, has already expressed confidence in securing the contract.


    Considered the underdog, Sri Lanka has never had the privilege of hosting the Commonwealth Games, unlike its competitor, Australia, which is bidding for the games to be hosted at Gold Coast.


    In support of their bids, each candidate country would receive opportunities to make presentations to various committees of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) including the General Assembly.


    This process is currently taking place at the St. Kitts Marriott Hotel in Frigate Bay.


    While some presentations have already been made, others will follow throughout the remainder of the week, at the end of which the election of the host city would be done and an announcement made.


    President of Sri Lanka’s National Olympic Committee (NOCSL) Hemasiri Fernando told SKNVibes that at present Sri Lanka does not have the infrastructure necessary to host such an event. He however explained that plans are afoot to construct a facility, dubbed the Commonwealth Games Park, which would be ready for use within the next five years.


    Fernando is fully aware that Australia has the advantage of experience, having previously hosted the Commonwealth Games. He said that doesn’t faze him as Sri Lanka’s chances of winning the bid are still quite high.


    “I am also the Regional Vice President of the Commonwealth Games Federation and I have been with them for almost 20 years, so I know how the members think and I think they always need a change. And we have capitalised on that and we are going very strong on that. We are very confident that we can do it and we are also very confident that we are going to win.


    “At the moment, we cannot match the facilities, the infrastructure facilities, and technological developments of Gold Coast, but in five year’s time we will have all infrastructure ready and also we are going to have trial games in 2016.


    The NOCSL President divulged that the genuine Sri Lanka hospitality is one of the advantages which Hambantota has used to sell itself as a fitting venue for the 2018 Games.


    “We are capitalising on very warm friendly games where the hospitality is number one. We will have a 35 000-strong volunteer force which will be personally under my care. I will be training them, I will be handling them and it will be the most courteous and helpful volunteers in the whole world. And that is one point that we have over Gold Coast.


    “I am going to tell you, it’s (our hospitality) number one and we know the level of courtesies and hospitality that we can extend to our visitors, not just for this particular occasion or purpose. It is generally that our people are so hospitable…It is very genuine, coming from the heart...”


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