Hambantota 2018 Organising Committee Co-Chair Ajith Nivard Cabraal said Tuesday that the performance of Sri Lanka’s rising stars at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games this past week will benefit the country’s bid for the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
His comments came as Sri Lanka won Silver and Bronze at the 2011 Games which ended Tuesday, and days after the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Evaluation Commission 144-page report was published on the two bid cities – Australia’s Gold Coast and Hambantota.
Cabraal said he believes hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games will see Sri Lanka stake claims for medals in the same way the country has done extraordinarily well in cricket.
He said, “that shows the talent was there but just needed a little inspiration and organization. We look at Malaysia, prior to hosting the Games in 1998 Malaysia’s medal tally was four per Games but has risen to about 35 since. An extraordinary change has taken place as a result of hosting the Games; that’s what we want to emulate”.
Cabraal said, “if we were given the opportunity of hosting the Commonwealth Games it would be a fantastic opportunity for Sri Lankan youth as well as the organizing structures. A Hambantota 2018 Games would give us a fantastic opportunity to get our people energized in sport in general and to identify and train talented athletes from a young age”.
A new seven-year National Sports Plan was launched in the new year, which means that all venues and supporting infrastructures planned for the 2018 Commonwealth Games will be in place two years ahead of time.
Cabraal said, “Indeed, the CGF report rightly says that there are huge benefits in bringing the Commonwealth Games to Sri Lanka despite the fact that many of our state-of-the-art venues have not yet been built. That our revolutionary plans could prove a blueprint for future Commonwealth Games. And that our proposition could become a blueprint for the other 61 Commonwealth nations that have never hosted the Games to follow”.
Hambantota’s “Sports City” development featuring 90 per cent of the venues and facilities for the 2018 Games is already under construction, said a press release, as well as major capital infrastructure projects including a sea port and an international airport. A high capacity public transport system and a new road network are in the works.