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MP Namal Rajapaksa points to an area in the model of the proposed 2018 Commonwealth Games City in Hambantota to Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Mike Hooper.

Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, who is also the Co-Chairman of the Organising Committee for the bid as well as the other co-chairman and Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal, business leader and Secretary Ministry of Transport Dhammika Perera, CWG Hambantota 2018 (Pvt) Ltd CEO Nalin Attygalle look on – Pic by Samantha Perera     

Sri Lanka ‘can do’ spirit gets new zeal with bid for Commonwealth Games 2018

Model of futuristic sports city Hambantota unveiled with ‘Together. From the heart’ tag line

Sri Lanka’s ‘can do’ spirit is getting a new zeal with the country’s ambitious bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Hambantota  which is being branded as an international sports city.

The country’s bid, which is being firmed up with expertise from the same party which helped UK to win the honour of hosting 2012 Olympics got a fillip with the visit of Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Mike Hooper over the weekend. Yesterday he visited Hambantota whilst on Saturday the Commonwealth Games Hambantota 2018 Games City Model was unveiled along with its tag line “Together. From the heart.”

MP Namal Rajapaksa and Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, who is also the Co-Chairman of the Organising Committee for the bid as well as the other co-chairman and Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal, Commonwealth Games Association President Hemasiri Fernando officiated at the ceremony along with representatives of companies which have come forward to support the bid.

The key purpose of Hooper’s visit to Sri Lanka was to understand the steps being taken by Hambantota as a Candidate City for the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and to assess the commitment and preparedness of the city towards hosting the games.

Cabraal said that Sri Lanka’s decision to bid for 2018 Games was to inspire over 50 other Commonwealth countries which hadn’t hosted the event thus far. “It is time that Sri Lanka and other nations say that we are also equal and competent to host the Commonwealth Games,” he added.

India hosted the 2010 Games in New Delhi and the next is due to be held in Glasgow, Scotland in 2014.

It was pointed out that if Sri Lanka succeeds in winning the bid thereby hosting the Games, it will be an ideal opportunity to enhance the brand of Commonwealth which among other things promotes humanity and world peace.

Cabraal also said that the Games will also be an excellent opportunity for Sri Lanka to showcase itself to the Commonwealth as well as rest of the world.

“Sri Lanka in recent years has astonished the world by becoming the first country to overcome modern and ruthless terrorism. Post-war, Sri Lanka has also seen rapid socio-economic growth midst sound macro-economic fundamentals,” Governor Cabraal added. He said that Sri Lanka thus far has been a successful co-host of the ICC World Cup 2011 and part of this endeavour was the building of a brand new cricket stadium in Hambantota.

“A few years ago dreaming even the idea of bidding or hosting the Commonwealth Games was impossible. Sri Lanka became popular and hit the global headlines for the wrong reasons of terrorism. However since mid-2009 after the end of terrorism we are more inspired and determined that Sri Lanka can do it,” he pointed out.

Cabraal also emphasised Sri Lanka was building a new brand image. “We are branding ourselves to the future and what better way than to brace ourselves to host the Commonwealth Games.  We are positioning ourselves as a country that delivers, has a ‘can do’ spirit and our bid to host the Games reflects that can do spirit of Sri Lanka,” Cabraal added.

He said that with the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa this transformation has been possible encouraging Sri Lanka to set its sights higher. He also said that during the past five years Sri Lanka has doubled its per capital income and a similar trend is being pursued in cycles of five years in the future as well.

“Our bid is an important step and a great challenge and it is these characteristics that we have made the tag line to be “Together, From the heart”,” Cabraal added.

Focusing on the preparations, the co-chairman of the bid organising committee said that Sri Lanka wants to be ready two years ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. This he said will be achieved with Hambantota hosting the 2016 South Asia Federation (SAF) Games.  Hambantota will also be featured in the ICC Twenty20 champions, which Sri Lanka will host next year. Another key event in the future calendar of Sri Lanka is hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2013 in Hambantota.

Cabraal said that the planned futuristic international sports city in Hambantota will be iconic and act as a catalyst to spur development in rest of Sri Lanka.

The Organising Committee (OC) of the Commonwealth Games 2018 Candidate City of Hambantota is in the process of preparing an attractive bid document under the 15 stipulated themes and the bid book is due to be submitted to the CGF on 11 May 2011. In addition to submitting the bid book, the OC will also convey the city’s commitment to host the games, while showcasing the country’s heritage, beauty and potential.