Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Flight chaos hits Commonwealth Games briefing

Flight chaos caused by the Icelandic volcano has scuppered plans for Australia's 2018 bid team to meet with Commonwealth Games officials in London this weekend.

Representatives from the Gold Coast and Hambantota in Sri Lanka were due to attend a briefing at Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) headquarters on Friday and Saturday.

But CGF chief executive Mike Hooper said the meeting, where the bid hopefuls were to learn more about putting together their plans to host the event and what is required of them, would be postponed to June or July.

"Courtesy of Iceland volcano, it didn't happen," Hooper told by phone on Wednesday from his home in New Delhi, where he was stranded after his flight to London was cancelled.

"We're now looking to reschedule the briefing session and we're just trying to find a time suitable to ourselves and the bids.

"I suspect we'll defer it to late June or July as a consequence."

Flights were disrupted around the globe after European airspace was closed for days amid fears an ash cloud from the volcano could clog plane engines.

With the 2010 Commonwealth Games due to start in India in October, time will be tight to squeeze in a briefing beforehand.

"It's a hectic time, as you'd expect, this close to the Games," Hooper said.

If the Gold Coast is chosen to host the 2018 Games, the Queensland government plans to spend $11 million on its bid and invest more than $1 billion in infrastructure, including an upgraded aquatic centre, new velodrome and athletes' village.

It faces competition from the surprise bid by Hambantota, located on the south coast of Sri Lanka with a population of about 500,000.

The winning city will be announced in November 2011.


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