Sri Lanka continues bid to host 2018 Commonwealth Games with Gala Dinner spiced with cultural performance

Photos of the cultural performance by Erasmus Williams

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, NOVEMBER 9TH 2011 (CUOPM) – Sri Lanka’s Southern City of Hambantota, bidding to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games, hosted a Gala Dinner, which showcased its tasty culinary, but also a splendid cultural performance in the court yard of the posh St. Kitts Marriott Resort on Tuesday night.

Hundreds of delegates to the Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly and locally invited guests attended.

Dinesh Weerawansa writing for the Sri Lanka Daily News said Sri Lanka has been allocated No. 9 for the electronic voting to select the host city during Friday’s Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly.

Australia’s Gold Coast City which is the other city bidding for the 2018 Games has been allocated No.4. The number allocations were made after a lucky draw between the representatives from the two candidate cities. Sri Lanka was represented at the draw by the Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka, Maxwell de Silva.

Both camps are making their last minute attempts to woo the 71 eligible votes but many independent observers feel that Hambantota takes a slight advantage due to various reasons. “Gold Coast has better infrastructure facilities but Hambantota’s proposal to have a complete newly constructed sports city looks more impressive,” a member of an African nation with voting rights, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

Hambantota 2018’s chances of making it the winning bid would be boosted by a guaranteed vote base from the Asian, African and the Caribbean regions. In contrast, Gold Coast would pin its hopes on voting that they lobby mainly from European, Americas and Oceania regions.

Out of six continents, Africa has the highest number of 18 member states in the CGF with the Caribbean having the second highest number of 15. The other member countries which will be eligible for voting would be 13 from Oceania and eight each from Asia, Americas and Europe.

Former Sri Lanka Test captain Aravinda de Silva, who was a household name in the Caribbean and the other cricket-playing nations, is a big attraction at Sri Lanka suite situated at the Marriot Resort here in St. Kitts. The Commonwealth Games Federation office at the Marriot is located between the two exhibition cabins of the two bid cities.

The Hambantota 2018 Bid Committee, headed by the Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal and Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, hosted a gala dinner at the Marriot Hotel poolside for the delegates of the CGF. Sri Lankan contingent was dressed in their traditional attire. Live performance by popular band ‘Doctor’ and Budawatte Dance Troupe, specially flown down for the big occasion, added colour to the Gala Dinner, prepared by special chefs from the Cinnamon Grand, Colombo.

Aanarkali was the popular compair while 2010 Miss Sri Lanka sang a popular English number.

Following a welcome by the distinguish audience, Aravinda de Silva said the hosting the Games would be a big inspiration to future sports stars. He recalled his playing days and described how former West Indian captain Sir Vivian Richards became the inspiring factor of his batting style.

Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage and Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa joined the Sri Lanka contingent in St.Kitts yesterday. They were seen speaking to foreign delegates who attended last night’s gala dinner, explaining what Hambantota would offer if the city gets a chance to host the Games in seven year’s time.

NOC President Hemasiri Fernando, AASL President Major General Palitha Fernando, AASL Vice President Prema Pinnawale are making use of their good offices to woo votes to keep Sri Lanka’s Hambantota 2018 dream alive. Most delegates who visited Sri Lanka’s suite at the Marriot were highly impressed and they were guaranteed that there would be ‘free smiles’ if Hambantota secures the right to host the 71-nation Games.

Co-Chairman of the Hambantota 2018, Cabraal, who is also the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, met the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Sir K. Dwight Venner at the ECCB headquarters here yesterday.

Sir Venner said that St. Kitts and Nevis is fully supporting Sri Lanka’s bid and that Hambantota 2018 fully deserves to host the Games. Cabraal made an impressive presentation and pointed out that Sri Lanka has the right political leadership, stability, economic growth and ability to host the Games.

Meanwhile, the Global Tamil Forum, a front organisation of the now defunct LTTE, is spearheading another sinister campaign to disrupt Hambantota’s chances.

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