altNovember 5 - Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has admitted that the vote next week to decide whether the Gold Coast or Hambantota hosts the 2018 Commonwealth Games is on a knife-edge.

Bligh will lead the Australian delegation to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly in St Kitts and Nevis, where 71 countries will vote.

The Gold Coast have been the favourites since started last year but Hambantota have run an impressive campaign.

''We're at the nail-biting end of this bid and it's a very nerve-racking time,'' said Bligh.

''I'm confident that what the Gold Coast will offer the Commonwealth Games is a world-class bid and a world-class sporting event.

''But you always go into these votes knowing that you can win or lose them, so we'll be putting every effort next week into every single voting delegate.''

The full Gold Coast team are due to arrive in the Caribbean on Tuesday (November 8).

''A successful Coast Commonwealth Games tilt could only further boost our reputation as the world's pre-eminent year-round elite training location and reinforce our tourism reputation,'' said Bligh.

"We know that Queenslanders got behind the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.

"I know that if we're successful this week, they'll get behind the 2018 Commonwealth Games on our beautiful Gold Coast."

By Duncan Mackay

Source: www.insidethegames.biz

altOctober 31 - Hambantota has a compelling argument to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the leader of its only rival, the Gold Coast, has admitted.  

With only 11 days to go until the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly vote in St Kitts and Nevis on November 11 on which city should host the Games the race is becoming increasingly competitive.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa (pictured) allegedly broke an agreement he had with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard not to promote Hambantota's bid at a special breakfast organised by the CGF during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth last Saturday (October 29).

She made only a brief mention of the Gold Coast as having put in a bid, saying Australia would host an ''outstanding Games''.

But Rajapaksa used his 10-minute speech to make a concerted pitch for votes.

Gillard, in turn, has angred the Sri Lankans by questioning the country's human rights record following allegations that they committed atrocities against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) following their final push that defeated the separatists in 2009 following the 26-year-long civil war in the country.

Mark Stockwell, the chairman of Gold Coast 2018, acknowledged that Rajapaksa embodies the determination shared by everyone associated with Hambantota to pull off what less than a year ago would have seemed an unlikely triumph.

He fears that Hambantota's bid could benefit from the support of many of the emerging nations who make up the 72-member CGF.  

"That speech [on Saturday] by Sri Lanka's President should be enough to rock the boat of any Australian," he told Australian Associated Press (AAP).

"This would be the biggest event this country will host in the next eight to 10 years and I think all Australians should be behind it.

"But Sri Lanka is looking at it as a nation building exercise.

"We want a good sporting event, a good party, good celebration and let's get the city moving, but Sri Lanka is saying this is the focus that could change their country.

"That's a pretty compelling argument to a lot of the developing nations who have a vote."

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh says the Games would help boost the Gold Coast's economy and take the city to a new level, as they did for Brisbane in 1982.

"But the most exciting thing is the mood, the vibe, that the Games will bring," she told AAP.

"An international event like this brings a massive buzz as the city transforms itself."

 

Source: www.insidethegames.biz

By Duncan Mackay

October 20 - Mike Hooper, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), said his organisation will not speculate on the issue regarding threats to expel Sri Lanka's membership of the Commonwealth despite the fact that Sri Lankan city Hambantota is bidding against the Gold Coast in Australia to the 2018 Games.

Calls to remove Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth came after the Australian Federal Police (AFP) recently received a war crimes dossier from the International Commission of Jurists alleging that Sri Lankan authorities shelled innocent civilians during the long civil war in the country that ended in 2009.

AFP Commissioner Tony Negus said the allegations are being treated as "a matter of urgency" and they include claims that Sri Lanka's top diplomat in Australia Thisara Samarasinghe, the former Sri Lankan navy chief, was in charge of ships that fired on unarmed civilians as they fled the fighting in the final stages of the civil war.

The issue is a major distraction for Hambantota who are in the final stages of their closely contested bid race to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games and on November 11, the 71 Commonwealth nations and territories will gather at the CGF General Assembly in St Kitts to vote on whether the Gold Coast or the Sri Lankan city will host the competition.

But Hooper said the issue will have no effect on the bid race and that it is not a matter for the CGF to concern themselves with.

"It's not the Commonwealth Games Federation's role to speculate on stories about individual nations, and membership of the Commonwealth is a matter for the Commonwealth itself and not the Federation," he told insidethegames.

"In St Kitts next month we're simply looking forward to the culmination of a very competitive bid process for the hosting of the 2018 Commonwealth Games."

Hambantota are hoping that hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games will help the country rebuild from the 26-year-long civil war in Sri Lanka which began in 1983 and saw an estimated 100,000 people killed the fight between the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Earlier this year, the Hambantota bid was forced on the back foot when British broadcaster Channel 4 aired a one-hour documentary in June entitled Sri Lanka's Killing Fields.

It documented the final stages of the conflict and showed horrific footage including Government soldiers executing bound prisoners; the dead bodies of naked, abused women dumped in a truck and the bombing of civilian hospitals.

Sri Lankan Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage (pictured above right with Hooper) told insidethegames that it was "a completely false documentary" that would have "no bearing on the Hambantota 2018 bid for the Commonwealth Games at all."

But as the latest allegations emerge, the Hambantota 2018 bid have found an unlikely ally in Gold Coast 2018 bid chairman Mark Stockwell who says his team are unconcerned by the issue and simply focused on a great competitor.

"Sri Lanka has just finished 24 years of civil war and there are a lot of people around the world who want to see Sri Lanka get on with life and that's the thing that I'm really concerned about," said Stockwell.

"I mean they're a great competitor and we want to run the Commonwealth Games because we love the Games and we love a good sporting event.

"The Sri Lankans are looking at this as a nation building exercise."

Stockwell's comments come just a week before Perth hosts the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011 from October 28-30.

It will be hosted by the Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard while Queen Elizabeth, the Head of the Commonwealth and the Patron of the CGF, has already arrived in Australia ahead of the event with husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, where she has been warmly greeted by the public.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is also due be in attendance at the meeting where the war crimes allegations are certain to be brought up.

-Tom Degun

Source: www.insidethegames.biz

altOctober 30 - Hambantota's bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games has received a boost after leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth confirmed Sri Lanka will host its next summit in 2013 despite the country being accused of committing atrocities during the civil war.

The three-day 2011 CHOGM in Perth, which was attended by the Queen, drew to a close today after being dominated by the issue of Sri Lanka's human rights record.

Sri Lankan Government forces are accused of committing atrocities against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) following their final push that defeated the separatists in 2009 following the 26-year-long civil war in the country.

The accusations say that the military killed tens of thousands of civilians leading to calls that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa (pictured) should be put on trial for war crimes and that the country should be expelled from the Commonwealth.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched an attempt to spark a major debate on the issue in Perth in an attempt to convince leaders to boycott the summit if held in Sri Lanka in 2013 unless Sri Lanka addresses the concerns properly.

But his attempt failed with Sri Lanka now guaranteed to host the event in the country in two years' time as planned after the decision was unanimously agreed on by the leaders in Perth.

Crucially for Hambantota's 2018 Commonwealth Games bid, it means that the Sri Lankan city no longer faces the danger of being removed for the Commonwealth and therefore being forced to pull out of the bid race with less than a month to go before the vote takes place.

Hambantota is bidding against the Gold Coast in Australia for the right to stage the 2018 event with the 71 Commonwealth nations and territories set to gather at the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly in St Kitts and Nevis on November 11 to decide on where the event is held.

Rajapaksa has been attending the Summit in Perth and as well as defending his country against the accusations and, telling Commonwealth leaders "not to listen to the propagandists", he has also been promoting Hambantota's bid.

altAfter the close of the Perth summit, Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris (pictured) tried to combat the publicity about the human rights allegations.

"This is all propaganda against the Government of Sri Lanka," he said.

"There is really strong propaganda in this country [Australia] and several other countries.

"But the reality of the situation is this: Sri Lanka in all fairness has to be given credit for its legitimate accomplishments."

Sri Lanka has told critics to reserve judgment until it releases an internal report on alleged atrocities in the final stages of the 25-year-long civil war which ended in 2009.

But not everyone was happy.

"It is an absolute disgrace that Commonwealth leaders have agreed to hold their next meeting in Sri Lanka in spite of its appalling human rights record," Amnesty International's national director Claire Mallinson said.

 

Source: www.insidethegames.biz

By Tom Degun

October 18 - Canada's Bruce Robertson, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) vice-president, claims that the vote on who will stage the 2018 competition presents a difficult choice for members with Australia's Gold Coast and Sri Lanka's Hambantota both bidding to host the event.

Delegates from 71 Commonwealth nations and territories will gather to cast one vote each at the CGF General Assembly on November 11 in St Kitts and Nevis to determine the hosts of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

CGF vice president Robertson - who is also the chair of the CGF Marketing Committee and the Glasgow 2014 Coordination Commission - feels that voting delegates face a tough decision on which bid to choose due to the fact that there is such a contrast between the Gold Coast and Hambantota.

"The 2018 vote will be a very difficult choice for our members to make because the two bids are so different," Robertson told insidethegames.

"Both cities have completely different ideas about how they want to lever their investment in the Games and both offer very different environments and therefore completely contrasting approaches.

"The Gold Coast has a lot of established venues and a lot of organisational capacity.

"Hambantota has a wonderful concept around their Games city but obviously the venues there have not yet been built so they will certainly have some delivery challenges over a seven-year project.

"So it will be a very interesting vote and I am quite honestly not sure which way the members are going to go."

Robertson, a former swimmer who won multiple medals at both the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games in the 1970s, continued that he is pleased to see two such different bids for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

"It is fantastic that there is so much interest in the Commonwealth Games as a property and opportunity," he said.

"The 2018 bid race shows just what the event can do for a city and a country regardless of the state of infrastructure or economy in the region and I wish both the Gold Coast and Hambantota the best of luck."

During the CGF General Assembly in St Kitts and Nevis, Robertson will be bidding for a third term as CGF vice-president having been in the role since 2003.

He faces tough competition to secure one of the two CGF vice-presidency places, as he is one of four strong candidates bidding alongside England's Ian Emmerson, South Africa's Gideon Sam and Kip Keino of Kenya.

Malaysia's Prince Tunku Imran, who is currently the other CGF vice-president serving alongside Robertson, will take over from Jamaica's Mike Fennell as CGF President at the General Assembly next month after he was the only candidate to put himself forward when the deadline for candidates closed in August this year.

The announcement of the 2018 Commonwealth Games host in St Kitts and Nevis will be Fennell's last act as President following a successful 17 years in charge and he will step down and become a life vice-president of the organisation.

-Tom Degun

Source: www.insidethegames.biz

altOn time and on budget with 1,000 Days To Go until Glasgow 2014

Chief Executive pleased with progress to date on the pathway to the Games

With just 1,000 Days To Go until the Opening Ceremony for Glasgow 2014, the latest Games Partners' Progress Report confirms this major sporting event is "on track and on budget".

The report illustrates that good progress is being made across all areas and that with a little under Three Years Go, Scotland is already reaping the economic and social benefits of hosting the Games.

This report follows the recent visit by the Commonwealth Games Federation's Coordination Commission which was satisfied with the strong partnership approach taken by the Organising Committee and Games Partners that is delivering across all elements of the Games. The Commission also believed there was a "clear focus on generating value and legacy for the people of Glasgow and Scotland".

Scotland's economy has already gained from the Games, with almost 80% of current contracts being awarded to Scottish companies across a wide range of industries. Companies from all over Scotland are currently engaged with Glasgow 2014, delivering products and services essential to making the Games a success.

However, while Glasgow 2014 is pleased with the progress that has been made to date, there is an eagerness to maintain the momentum on the pathway towards delivering an outstanding Games.

The report - which is available from Thursday in full on http://www.glasgow2014.com/games_gallery/documents_library/most_recent.aspx - includes detail on the following progress:

Venues and infrastructure: Work has been progressing at key venues and locations including the Commonwealth Games Athletes' Village, where work on accommodation and facilities  for 6,500 athletes and officials got underway in June;  the National Indoor Sports Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, which is now 63% complete and where work has begun on the terraced seating;  Tollcross International Swimming Centre, which saw construction work get underway in June; the Scottish National Arena is taking shape; and Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre which, since August, has five new international standard lawns - the first of the venue development projects to be completed. Two major transport infrastructure projects - M74 extension and M80 upgrade - have been completed, improving access for spectators.

Commercial and Economy: Glasgow 2014 has appointed the BBC as Domestic Broadcast Rights Holder and signed three sponsorship agreements with Harper Macleod, Search Consultancy and Ernst & Young. The economy is also benefitting, with 105 of the 134 current contracts having been awarded to Scottish companies.

Community: Thousands of budding sportspeople at the Merchant City Festival accepted the "Three Years To Go" sporting challenge offered by Glasgow 2014. This saw them participate in events inspired by the 17 sports of Glasgow 2014. This was Glasgow's event in the Games for Scotland programme – a host of events that got underway on 23rd July, marking three years to go, and will end on 27th October, marking 1,000 Days To Go.  In addition to this, Glasgow 2014 attended the West End Festival and the Lord Provost's parade, as well as the Riding of the Scottish Parliament.

Glasgow 2014 Chief Executive David Grevemberg said:

"This report highlights the commitment by all at Glasgow 2014 and our Games Partners to deliver - on time and on budget - an outstanding and memorable Games for Glasgow and Scotland.

"Whilst we are confident with the work and planning done so far, no one at Glasgow 2014 is complacent about the task ahead as we enter the important detailed planning phase which will allow us to host a sporting event that will showcase Scotland at its very best on a global stage."
Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport Shona Robison said:
“Glasgow 2014 is fast approaching and the venues and infrastructure are taking shape. With 1,000 days to go I’m pleased this latest progress report shows the Games remain on time, on budget and will provide a showcase for Scotland at its best.
 
“Now, more than ever, the Scottish Government is determined that the Games will provide a lasting legacy that is relevant to all Scots. Already across Scotland people are getting involved and feeling the excitement that the Games will bring but today we have launched our Games Legacy website, a one-stop shop for the public to access information on the range of legacy activity happening in their local community.”

Glasgow City Council Executive Member for the Commonwealth Games, Archie Graham said:

“1,000 Days To Go marks another phase in the countdown to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.  It is also a reminder of how quickly time has passed since we were awarded the Games.  In that period, we have made tremendous progress in preparing venues and infrastructure that will allow us to host a fantastic event.  Much work remains to be done, but we are confident that the Games will be a great success and will leave a fantastic legacy for Glasgow and Scotland.”

Chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland, Michael Cavanagh said:

“We are heartened by the strong progress made in planning to deliver a truly memorable Games. A key part of any successful Games is a successful home team performance and we are pleased to report that Team Scotland is well advanced in our planning to deliver on our potential in Glasgow and beyond”

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer at EventScotland, the national events agency, said:

“The Commonwealth Games Federation’s Coordination Commission findings are a ringing endorsement for the Organising Committee as it continues to deliver what promises to be a spectacular Commonwealth Games. With just 1,000 Days To Go, the Games really are a prospect which everyone can look forward to. It’s great to see that good progress is being made by the Organising Committee and we look forward to working with Glasgow 2014 to ensure that communities across Scotland have the opportunity to get involved in what promises to be a fantastic event for Glasgow, Scotland and the Commonwealth.”

Competition launched to design Glasgow 2014’s official mascot
UK-wide children’s competition launched with the BBC to mark 1,000 Days To Go until the Games
Glasgow 2014 has joined forces with the BBC to launch a children’s competition to design the official Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games mascot with exactly 1,000 days to go until the Opening Ceremony.

The competition will be launched in Scotland on BBC Radio Scotland's MacAulay & Co show with Fred MacAulay at 1030am.  The competition will feature in content right across the BBC on television, radio and online through the Nations.  There will also be coverage on BBC Sport and Blue Peter throughout the five-week competition.

The winner of the competition will be given four tickets to the Opening Ceremony.

Mascots are a major part of the Games experience, embodying the values of the Commonwealth Games and character of the host country, and playing a lead role in engaging and inspiring young people.

The Mascot will be a significant personality in the run-up to and during the Games, used by Glasgow 2014 to welcome visitors and spectators, visit schools and community events and appear on signage.

Glasgow 2014 is looking for a mascot that is:

•    Original;
•    A made up or imaginary character, animal or person;
•    Easy to recognise as the official mascot for Scotland and the Commonwealth Games;
•    Is appealing to young people;
•    Friendly; and
•    Incorporates red, yellow, green or blue – or all of these colours.

The entries will be judged in three age categories (6-8, 9-11 and 12-15) and children from all over the UK are being encouraged to enter the competition.

Ten of the best entries from each age category will be selected in the first round of judging. These will then be shortlisted and judged a second time before a final winner is chosen.

Those shortlisted will be contacted by the BBC.  The winner will be announced after the London 2012 Paralympics in September 2012, where the winning mascot will be unveiled.

The judging panel will be made up of BBC and Glasgow 2014 staff and external experts.

Entries must be sent in on an A4 piece of paper and must be drawn or painted. For full details of the competition, including how to enter, please visit: www.bbc.co.uk/glasgow2014 .

Glasgow 2014 Chief Executive David Grevemberg said:

“This is a great opportunity for someone to become part of Commonwealth Games history by designing our mascot, which will welcome spectators and athletes from all over the world to the Games.

“Designed by young people, for young people, the mascot will be very important to the Games and to Scotland.  We believe that one very special person will put pen or paintbrush to paper and come up with something totally original for us to have as our friendly face of the Games.”

Ken MacQuarrie, Director of BBC Scotland, said:

“BBC Scotland is delighted to be involved with the search for a mascot for Glasgow 2014. This is an exciting opportunity for young people across the UK to get involved with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and contribute a lasting legacy.

“It is fantastic that MacAulay and Co on BBC Radio Scotland will be launching the competition and we look forward to seeing the finished result next year."

Seb Coe, Chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, said:

“We’ve seen the role the mascots can play with young people. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville have been visiting schools across the UK inspiring young people to choose sport.”


Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport Shona Robison MSP said:
“The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games will be a truly Scottish occasion and I am delighted that young people across the country are being encouraged to get involved through the mascot competition.
 
“There are 1,000 days to go to the Opening Ceremony of what will be an outstanding Games and giving our young people the opportunity to impact on how the event is marketed across country, the Commonwealth and the world is the perfect way in which to mark such an important milestone.
 
“The Games will show the world what vibrant and welcoming places both Glasgow and Scotland are and now more than ever it’s important that we involve people and communities from across Scotland in the excitement of the Games. I would encourage all young people to get involved with this competition and play their part as we get ever closer to the opening ceremony in 2014.”
 
Councillor Archie Graham, Executive Member for the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow City Council, said:

“The creation of a mascot for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games presents another chance for young people to become involved in and inspired by our preparations for this unique event in their lives.
”Those involved in the process will see their winning entry to the competition become a symbol of the Games, recognisable to many millions of people.  I look forward to seeing what our young people come up with.”
Commonwealth Games Scotland Chairman Michael Cavanagh said:
“The mascot competition is a fantastic opportunity for young people to get involved and use their creative talents to develop a special symbol for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
“The mascot is an integral part of the marketing campaigns for the Games and must embody values of the Games as well as bringing a bit of fun and colour to the proceedings. For the athletes, the mascot is a symbol of their participation in the Games, of the friendships made and the medals won.”

Note to Editors

1.    Glasgow 2014 appointed the BBC as the Domestic Broadcast Rights Holder for the XX Commonwealth Games in June 2011.


2.    The BBC investment in Glasgow 2014 reflects the importance of the Games to the Home nations and offers the Organising Committee an unparalleled platform for the promotion of the Games to the widest possible UK audience.


3.    The BBC Network offers coverage of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games through the BBC One and BBC Two television networks, news coverage across the BBC Radio and TV networks (including Radio 5 Live and Sports Extra), red button interactive and/or IPTV services, the BBC Sport website and international promotion of the Games through BBC World News and the BBC World Service.  


4.    The BBC’s network television channels are watched by 85% of the population each week, whilst 66% listen to the BBC’s national radio stations.


5.    Running in parallel with the young people’s design competition, Glasgow 2014 has also started the global search for a marketing agency to develop the winning design in to a finished product.  The agency will work with the winning design to create a number of Mascot films, poses and designs that will be used throughout the city and across marketing materials for the Games.


6.    For media queries on Glasgow 2014 please contact Glasgow 2014 PR Manager Holly Wheeler on 0141 287 3457 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


7.    For media queries for the BBC, please contact Karen Higgins on 0141 422 6379 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 
Kate Randall
Director of Games Family Relations and Protocol

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