The 2018 Commonwealth Games went to Gold Coast in Australia. Hambantota, a late and surprising entry to the race, entering just over a year ago, has been defeated.
Traditionally, the Commonwealth Games was a domain of the 'white' nations of the Commonwealth of Nations. In 1998, Kuala Lumpur held the event successfully. The next time it came to Asia, at New Delhi 2010, it was a debacle before the event got underway.
The Indian fiasco did not help the newly resurgent city of Hambantota. A crucial factor favouring the Aussie city was that they have already put up the majority of the venues for the games. Hambantota is still building up the infrastructure.
However, as the Australian delegation pointed out Hambantota gave a good fight till the end and 27 countries thought it was better than Gold Coast. Gold Coast bid president Mark Stockwell has said that while celebrating victory, he really wanted to pay tribute to Hambantota. He has said that “at times in their presentation, I actually wanted to vote for them because they were so convincing and were speaking from the heart”.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh also commended the bid from Hambantota and pointed out that if 8 or 9 delegates had changed their minds, Gold Coast would not be hosting the Games in 2018.
The phenomenal development in Hambantota will be carried on, and in a few more years we will hopefully have the bulk of the infrastructure ready. With this as a strength behind us, we will be able to give even a better fight. Meanwhile, we have to contend with the fact that Hambantota, which was devastated due to the Tsunami of December 2004, is now in the limelight for putting up a fight against one of the richest countries in the Commonwealth.