Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Oceania supports Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bid

A dozen Oceanic nations have pledged support for the Gold Coast's Commonwealth Games bid, indicating the city could already have a third of the votes needed to clinch the 2018 event.

Oceania Commonwealth Games regional vice-president Tapasu Leung Ming Wai yesterday said the 12 Oceania countries in the Commonwealth backed the Coast over its Sri Lankan rival Hambantota.

"We had a meeting in Fiji a few weeks ago where there was talk about the Gold Coast bid and supporting the idea," said Mr Leung Ming Wai.

"We see it as a bid on behalf of Oceania.

"Logistically it is closer to us than Sri Lanka and we would support it security-wise."

Australian Commonwealth Games Association chief Perry Crosswhite is now in the midst of political jostling, firming up securing votes from the 71 member nations that will decide the Gold Coast's hosting fate.

He said securing the 12 votes of Oceania, which includes Samoa, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, was a major step toward getting the 36 votes needed to clinch the Games.

"We are full-steam ahead looking at the strategy and politics now and getting people who are going to support us in November 2011 at the General Assembly when the vote happens," he said.

"There are six regions in the Commonwealth and we would hope to get strong support from Europe, the Americas and Caribbean.

"I expect Asia will have some sympathy for Sri Lanka."

Mr Crosswhite said the bid team had already sought tips from Glasgow, which will host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and would be picking the brains of the Delhi 2010 team currently in Australia for the Queen's Baton Relay.

"Premier Anna Bligh had a meeting with Glasgow where they gave us a lot of information," he said.

Mr Crosswhite said that the bid would be centred around hosting a smaller Commonwealth Games in a regional city as opposed to previous years where it has been held in larger cities.

He expected that would be more appealing, because it opened up opportunities for smaller cities to bid for future games. "We think that is what the Commonwealth Games Federation wants and I think it will be a vote-getter," he said.


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