By Tom Degun in the Gold Coast
June 21 - The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Evaluation Commission have claimed that they are unconcerned by the nature of Hambantota's bid for the 2018 event despite the fact that only one of the major sporting venues in the Sri Lankan city has been completed.
The five-person Commission, chaired by Scotland's Louise Martin, are currently undertaking a four-day inspection of the Gold Coast, Hambantota's only rivals for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, before they head to Sri Lanka next week from June 27-30.
A large part of the visit to the Gold Coast will see the Commission taken on site visits to key venues such as the Carrara Stadium with the large majority of the proposed 2018 Commonwealth Games venues in the Australian city having been completed.
But in stark contrast, the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium (pictured), which opened in February 2011 and staged two matches during the ICC 2011 World Cup, is the only proposed 2018 Commonwealth Games venue to have been built where it is scheduled to host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the archery if the 2018 bid is successful.
Therefore the majority of the of the Commission's stay in Sri Lanka will see them located in the country's largest city, the capital Colombo, for a series of virtual presentations with only a one day visit to Hambantota but CGF chief executive Mike Hooper, one of the members of the five-person Commission, said this poses no problem at all.
"Hambantota is a developing city and it is no secret that the majority of their venues have not yet been built," Hooper told insidethegames.
"But they are hugely ambitious and there are plans for Hambantota developed into a sport city regardless of whether they are awarded Commonwealth Games.
"In fact all of the venues will be built except the Velodrome and the temporary venues even if the bid is unsuccessful.
"There is also new the seaport that is being developed and a major new airport under construction meaning that the area will soon be a hub of prosperity for Sri Lanka so we are not at all concerned by the nature of their bid."
Hambantota are planning a compact bid with all the venues in the same area and they have stated that all planned 2018 Commonwealth Games venues will be ready by 2016 when the city is due to host the South Asian Games.
Martin echoed Hooper's comments, claiming that the Glasgow's successful bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which she headed, was similar to the Hambantota bid in that few of the major Games venues were built during the bid stage.
"We won the 2014 bid on a Village that was virtual," she said.
"You can't expect to have everything there seven years out."
Day one of the Commission's visit to the Gold Coast was largely made up of presentations but day two and three will consist of site visits and a tour of the city via helicopter before proceedings are concluded with a final press conference on day four.
Following both visits, the Commission will produce a final Evaluation report for voting delegates which is due to be published this September and likely to play a crucial role in deciding where the 2018 Commonwealth Games are staged when the vote for them takes place at the GCF General Assembly on November 11 in St Kitts and Nevis.
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