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altMay 8 - Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief executive Mike Hooper has praised the contribution of Mark Stockwell in helping the Gold Coast win the right to stage the 2018 Commonwealth Games but said that the hugely controversial decision to fire him is fully down to the relevant bodies in Australia.

Stockwell (pictured above, left), a former swimmer who won three medals at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, played a huge role in helping the Queensland city secure the international, multisport event as chairman of the bid team that defeated sole rivals Hambantota of Sri Lanka by 43 votes to 27 at the CGF General Assembly in St Kitts and Nevis.

The 48-year-old was unsurprisingly confirmed as chairman of Gold Coast 2018 by former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), who was known to be close to Stockwell.

But Bligh was ousted from office in March after she was crushed in the State elections by Campbell Newman, the new Queensland Premier, of the Liberal National Party (LNP).

Newman appointed Jann Stuckey as the Commonwealth Games Minister and it was left to Stuckey to confirm that Stockwell had been sacked as she claimed that it was time to "transition to a Board that has the confidence of the Government, the [Australia] Commonwealth Games Association, and the public".

It is widely believed that Stockwell had been sacked due to the fact that he was appointed by Bligh (pictured below, second left) but while the CGF chief executive refused to comment on the speculation, he praised Stockwell and admitted that the organisation respects the decision that has been made.

"The decision to appoint a board for the 2018 Commonwealth Games is a matter for the Queensland Government and the Australian Commonwealth Games Association (ACGA) and we respect that," Hooper (pictured top, right with Stockwell) told insidethegames.

"Mark obviously made a great contribution to the Gold Coast, to Queensland and to Australia in leading their successful bid team and he deserves full credit for that.

"We wish Mark well for the future and we look forward to meeting with the new Government and the new Board when the CGF President [Prince Tunku Imran] and I visit the Gold Coast for an update on preparations in June."

The new board will be set up this week with Nigel Chamier, a Brisbane businessman who, like Stockwell, is a property developer, set to be named as the new chairman after backing from the ACGA.

ACGA chairman Sam Coffa (pictured above, first left), who helped appoint Stockwell as chairman, has publically denied that his organisation wanted to see Stockwell go, while Premier Newman refused to shed any light on the issue, simply saying that it was "now time to go to the second stage of this, which is to deliver the Games".

Stockwell reportedly clashed with the new Government over where to build the Athletes' Village for the Games.

He wanted to locate it in Parklands, an area of the city that includes pavilions, showgrounds and function areas but there was opposition to the plan from the Gold Coast Harness Racing Club, the Gold Coast Show Society and Big Day Out organisers, who wanted the village relocated.



By Tom Degun

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altMay 6 - Mark Stockwell has been sacked as the chairman of the Gold Coast 2018 Organising Committee despite being the driving force behind the city's successful bid for the Commonwealth Games.

The new Liberal National Party (LNP) State Government, who won the election six weeks ago, confirmed the new Board would not include Stockwell, a former swimmer who won three medals at the 1984 Los Angeles, two silver and a bronze.

The 48-year-old Stockwell is now a successful property developer but he has reportedly clashed with the new Government over where to build the Athletes' Village for the Games.

He wanted to locate it Parklands, an area of the city that includes pavilions, showgrounds and function areas.

But there was opposition to the plan from the Gold Coast Harness Racing Club, the Gold Coast Show Society and Big Day Out organisers, who wanted the Village relocated.

New Commonwealth Games Minister Jann Stuckey now appears to have backed their concerns.

Announcing that Stockwell will be replaced she said it was time to "transition to a Board that has the confidence of the Government, the [Australia] Commonwealth Games Association, and the public".

Stuckey added: "To ensure that these Games are delivered on time, and importantly on budget, the LNP Newman Government needs to put in place a Board that will quickly get on with the major infrastructure planning and delivery of this billion-dollar event.

"What is needed now for the Gold Coast Games are well-credentialed people who have qualifications in law, finance, development, and the commercial sector along with prominent sporting people who can make a significant contribution in the building and operations of the Games.

"The composition of Commonwealth Games Board is crucial and the Government is working hard to strike the right balance."

altThere are widespread suspicions that Stockwell has been sacked because he was appointed by Labour's former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh (pictured in red with Stockwell), who has now been replaced by Campbell Newman.

The decision will alarm senior executives at the Commonwealth Games Federation and the new set-up will now be top of the agenda when President Prince Tunku Imran and chief executive Mike Hooper visit the Gold Coast next month for a progress update.

It means that none of the key members of the team that delivered the Gold Coast 2018 bid are involved in organising the Games with the city's Mayor Ron Clarke having stepped down to be replaced last month by Tom Tate, a local millionaire businessman

Stockwell refused to hit out at the decision to replace him.

"I respect people can change their views," he told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

"We have taken the Gold Coast around the world," he said.

"I am grateful to have had that opportunity.

"I am standing by to help in any way I can from here.

"This event can change people's lives and it can change cities."



By Duncan Mackay

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November 24 – The Gold Coast are set to stage their first major sporting competition since winning the right to stage the 2018 Commonwealth Games earlier this month with the HSBC Sevens World Series set to get underway in the city.

The Australian city saw off sole rivals Hambantota of Sri Lanka to stage the Commonwealth Games and it will get the chance to show the world exactly what is in store in 2018 with the inaugural Gold Coast Sevens which takes place tomorrow and Saturday (November 26).

The competition will take place at the 27,400 capacity Skilled Park, the home ground to the National Rugby League's Gold Coast Titans, and the world's top rugby sevens players have praised the both the stadium and the city as a world class sporting destination.

"To start the Series in the Gold Coast, it is a bit of a paradise here, so we are all really excited about it and playing in a great stadium, the home of the Gold Coast Titans," said New Zealand captain DJ Forbes.

"Pressure is always on New Zealand, and there might be more with being defending champions, but we never go into a Series defending a title, we just go out like all the others to win it."

England captain Greg Barden added: "Looking around, its 30 degrees already, beautiful sunshine and no better place to start the Series."

New Zealand and England will be two of the favourites for victory in the Gold Coast along with hosts Australia, who are one of a number of countries who have started investing far more in the sport since it became an Olympic sport, set to feature at Rio 2016.

"The home crowd will help us out a lot," said Australia captain Ed Jenkins.

"It is almost like playing with an extra man if the crowd can get up and make a lot of noise for us and I think it will be really beneficial."

A total of 16 teams will participate in the competition which could provide an indication of what the rugby sevens competition will look like at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Men's rugby sevens has featured at every Commonwealth Games since Kuala Lumpur 1998 and is now a compulsory sport at the competition while women's rugby sevens could make its debut on the Gold Coast after the sport was voted onto the sports programme as optional sports earlier this month.

By Tom Degun


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December 21 - The Liberal National Party (LNP), the Opposition Party in Queensland, have called on Queensland Premier Anna Bligh's (pictured) to come clean about the cost of hosting the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games following a leaked report that suggests they have a $7 million (£4.5 million/€5.3 million) black hole.

The briefing note from within the Department of Premier and Cabinet has revealed that the Queensland Government, of which the Labour Party holds the majority, must pay more than $17 million (£11 million/€13 million) to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and the Australian Commonwealth Games Association (ACGA) this financial year but that only $10 million (£6.4/€7.7 million) has been set aside.

"This latest revelation shows that in fact the cost this year will be $7 million (£4.47 million/€5.34 million) more than we've been told," said the opposition treasury spokesman Tim Nicholls.

"Really the Government, if they want to ensure that people support the Commonwealth Games as they want and as we want to do, then they need to come clean and tell people where money's coming from and tell them up front how much it's going to cost.

"We now know why Treasurer Andrew Fraser argued against Anna Bligh about the Government's bid for the Commonwealth Games."

Queensland's acting Sport Minister Simon Finn claimed that the issue is being addressed and that a winning bid was always going to present some early costs.

"We've always known that there would some initial up-front costs in staging the Games," he said.

"There is no blow-out in the cost of the Games but obviously with the bid announced late in the year, we have to address the costs of this through the mid-year review."

Gold Coast 2018 chairman Mark Stockwell has also claimed that the Commonwealth Games will be delivered on time and on budget as promised in the bid.

"None of these things came out of the blue," said Stockwell.

"It is just the difference in bidding for the Games and actually hosting them."

Stockwell added that he was confident about delivering a "great event" within the $1 billion (£639 million/€746 million) budget set by the State Government.

The leaked document shows the Queensland Government must pay $47 million (£30 million/€36 million) to the ACGA over eight years for marketing rights for the 2018 Commonwealth Games with an initial first payment of $15 million (£9.5 million/€11.4 million) due by by January 1, 2012.

A further $17 million (£11 million/€13 million) is required by the CGF under the Host City contract provisions over seven years while a $2.3 million (£1.5 million/€1.8 million) down payment is due by February 1, 2012.

By Tom Degun


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altNovember 17 - Hambantota has blamed the chaos of last year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and the intervention of Canada for its failure to win its bid to host the 2018 edition of the event, as the campaign's leaders Ajith Nivard Cabraal and Mahindananda Aluthgamage both complained that they suffered from a bias against smaller countries hosting the event.

The Sri Lankan city were beaten 43-27 by its only rival, the Gold Coast, at the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly in St Kitts and Nevis last Friday (November 11).

Upon his return to the capital Colombo, the co-chairman of Hambantoa 2018, Cabraal (pictured above right), claimed that their bid was scuppered by a late intervention from Commonwealth Games Canada.

"At the last minute Canada brought a proposal that India did not conduct the [2010] Games well and that some payments have not been made yet," said Cabraal.

"No doubt this was countered, but it created uncertainty among the members."

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been the most fierce critic of Sri Lankan's human rights record and at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth last month had threatened to oppose Hambantota's bid unless they addressed the issue seriously.

Canada's opposition both in Perth and St Kitts damaged Hambantota's chances, Cabraal claimed.

 "As a result I think that may have hurt our chances to a some extent, although we know that one of the most successful Games was conducted in India," said Cabraal, the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

"This lobby appeared to be designed to give some kind of a feeling that Asian countries are unable to have very good Games.

"That also may have gone against us to some extent."

Aluthgamage (pictured above left), the Sports Minister who was the other co-chairman of the bid, also criticised the bidding process.

"There is an injustice and we saw that small countries do not get a chance to hold these Games," he said.

But, despite Sri Lanka losing the bid, the process helped to improve Sri Lanka's image and boosted the tourism industry, Aluthgamage admitted.

It also provided an opportunity to draw attention to Hambantatoa, which is being developed as the country's second economic city, he said.

Cabraal insisted that they have not yet given any thought about whether to launch a bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games but they would push ahead with their ambitious plans to turn Hambantota into a major sporting hub.

"We have not thought of bidding for the 2022 Games but our plan on making Hambantota a sports city will go ahead as planned despite the loss," he said.



By Duncan Mackay

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November 28 - Glasgow 2014 has hit the landmark 100th member of staff with the appointment of former top swimmer Todd Cooper as the Sport Competition Cluster Manager for the Commonwealth Games.

The 28-year-old Stirling University graduate, who joins from the national events agency EventScotland, already sits on Glasgow 2014's Athletes' Advisory Committee having competed at both the Manchester 2002 and Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, winning a bronze in the latter competition as part of Scotland's 4x100 metres men's medley relay.

He was also part of Team GB at the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympics while he is one of four Sport Competition Cluster Managers to have been recruited by Glasgow 2014 in recent weeks.

He joins Alison Lunn, Mark Mateer and Keith Joss, who will all be responsible for the planning and organisation of a group of sports and will contribute to their successful delivery at Games-time.

Cooper will direct his focus to his native sport of aquatics as well as squash, table tennis and rugby sevens.

"As a former Commonwealth competitor, I am excited to have this opportunity to be at the heart of the preparations for the Games coming to Glasgow and to be the Organising Committee's 100th employee is an added honour," he said.

"I can't wait to get started in this role as part of the Sport team and play my part in creating a memorable Games for all of Scotland."

The milestone appointment comes as Glasgow 2014 continues to ramp up its recruitment campaign to fill 1,044 posts across a wide variety of roles between now and the Games via the services of Search Consultancy who look to identify the most appropriate candidates with the experience and skillset required to stage a world class Games.

"This is an exciting milestone for Glasgow 2014 and demonstrates the pace and scale of our recruitment," said Glasgow 2014 chief executive David Grevemberg.

"Over the next two-and-a-half years we will increase our staff numbers to 1,044 and create a strong team with the mix of experience and skills we require to stage an outstanding Games and have a legacy of skills in Glasgow and Scotland.

"We are delighted to welcome Todd, a former Olympic and Commonwealth athlete, as our 100th employee and we look forward to his contribution to the team and the Games at large.

"Todd's experience as an athlete at previous Games will complement our team as we plan to deliver an athlete centred and sport focused Games."

Shona Robison, Scotland's Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, added: "As well as bringing an international sporting spectacle to Scotland, hosting the Commonwealth Games is a tremendous opportunity to create a lasting legacy through the creation of new jobs and boosting our economy.

"I'm delighted to see the 100th member of staff in place and I congratulate Todd on his appointment.

"The skills and experience he brings with him will ensure he makes a significant contribution to a successful Commonwealth Games.

"With less than 1,000 days to go until the big event this latest milestone shows the Organising Committee is continuing to oversee the successful delivery of the Games which remain on time, on budget and on track to be a fantastic event for all of Scotland."

By Tom Degun


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