Source: Hambantota, Sri Lanka
A high profile delegation from Sri Lanka’s bid to host its first Commonwealth Games has arrived in Marrakech, Morocco, to present the case for Hambantota 2018 to the fifth African International Sports Convention (CISA).
The summit, which runs to 19 March, is a major feature in the African sporting calendar. More than 300 sports professionals from across the globe are convened under the theme ‘Sport for Education & Development.’ Among them are representatives of all 19 African Commonwealth Games Associations (CGAs) who will be interested in synergies with Hambantota 2018’s own agenda, according to Nalin Attygalle, Chief Executive of the bid and who leads the delegation.
Mr Attygalle said: “Just as CISA aims to promote the development of African sport at school level, our bid recognises the intrinsic link between sports and education. Sport can be life-changing and transformational. A Hambantota Games will be a catalyst to work with schools and engage young people throughout our unified nation; we will create a pyramid of sporting opportunity in line with our new seven-year National Sports Plan.”
Education through sport is not the only goal shared by CISA and Hambantota 2018. The conference also asks what it takes to run a bid; how major events can affect emerging cities’ development plans; and what benefits await a nation and its communities. Sri Lanka itself wants a 2018 Games to secure long term and sustainable social and economic benefits as it continues its rapid development following the end of internal conflict and the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami; Hambantota is the fast-developing coastal city in the South coast region worst hit. And the tear drop shaped nation also hopes to break the mould of event bidding to be an inspiration for others.
Mr Attygalle added: “As a developing nation, a key ambition of our bid campaign is to inspire other developing and emerging nations – and their people – throughout the Commonwealth. It is not only large and advanced economies that should be considered as host cities of major events. We will demonstrate that we have what it takes to host a truly unique and successful 2018 Games. By doing so, we hope to open up the opportunity for other developing countries within the Commonwealth to bid for and stage the Games in the future.”
In demonstrating to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and all CGAs that it has the ability to host an exemplary event in 2018, the Hambantota bid commits to completing all of the venues and the entire infrastructure for the Games by December 2016. The ‘new’ city will host the South Asian Games the same year which, together with further test events throughout 2017, will act as a dress rehearsal to ensure everything is ready well in advance of 2018.
Further synergies can be drawn between Hambantota and Marrakech itself. Like many North African cities, the latter comprises both an old fortified city (the médina) and an adjacent modern city or ville nouvelle (Gueliz). Hambantota too promises to offer visitors in 2018 the very best of both worlds: ‘old’ world charm, natural beauty, cultural splendours and heritage coupled with the vibrancy, diversity and excitement of a new city. The populations are both also known for a tradition of hospitality, as depicted in the Hambantota 2018 emblem1 unveiled in January by His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The trip is part of the Hambantota 2018 Organising Committee’s plans to visit Commonwealth countries in all six regions – Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, America and the Caribbean – before submitting its Candidature File or ‘Bid Book’ in Kuala Lumpur on 11 May. Accompanying Mr Attygalle are Hon. Keheliya Rambukwella, Minister of Media and Mr Hemasiri Fernando, President NOC/CGA Sri Lanka. A delegation last month met CGAs from the Caribbean and Americas at the Central American and Caribbean Sports Organisation (CACSO) in Veracruz, Mexico.
The CGF is due to choose the host city at its meeting in St Kitts and Nevis on 11 November 2011. For more information on Hambantota 2018 visit: www.hambantota2018.com
Notes to editors
The Hambantota 2018 emblem features eight pairs of hands in the colours of the CGF. Each pair of hands is pressed together, palms together and fingers pointed outwards. This symbolises Añjali Mudrā, the hand gesture practiced throughout Asia and the continent’s eight Commonwealth members; it has the same meaning as the customary spoken Sanskrit greeting Namaste. The design also depicts the similar Ayubowan gesture, a cultural symbol of Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan hospitality. The bid strap line is ‘Together. From the heart.’
The Hambantota 2018 logo and strapline are available on request as jpeg and/or eps files.
For further information on Hambantota 2018 visit www.hambantota2018.com
The 19 CGAs attending CISA are: