The twin-island Federation of St Kitts and Nevis played host last week to the family of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC). We shall address the latter organization and its meetings on another occasion.
The Commonwealth Games Federation held its Annual General Assembly at the Marriott on St Kitts. The Commonwealth Games Association and National Olympic Committee of that country successfully won the right to be host of the Assembly two years ago by defeating Northern Ireland.
The CGF family was truly amazed at the capacity of such a small Caribbean country, one of the smallest of its members, to so successfully host the Annual Assembly.
The economy of St Kitts and Nevis certainly received a boost when over 350 delegates and supporters descended on the country for nearly a week, the highlight of which was the vote on the city to host the Commonwealth Games of 2018. The bidding cities were Hambamtota of Sri Lanka and Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
The Hambamtota Bid
Hambamtota offered a bid that focused on the rebuilding of Sri Lanka. The Bid Committee compared Sri Lanka with Malaysia when the latter offered its bid to host the Commonwealth Games of 1998. Malaysia was on the threshold of economic take-off and the then Bid Committee used the Commonwealth Games of 1998 as an opportunity to facilitate bringing the country to the world.
Malaysia had offered Kuala Lumpur as its city for the Games and prepared an Olympic Games-type bid against Adelaide of Australia. The latter was totally unprepared for the challenge and Kuala Lumpur won the tight to host the Games of 1998 quite easily.
Subsequent to hosting the Games Malaysia never looked back. The economy mushroomed as investors rushed to take advantage of the opportunities.
Sir Lanka has just emerged from an extensive and painful war against the Tamil Tigers and wanted to take its place among the developing nations of the world boasting a growth rate of eight per cent and climbing even in the face of the global economic challenges.
The Sri Lankan government gave full support to the bid of Hambamtota understanding the role of sport in the building awareness of a country amongst the international community and its role in facilitating national unity and reconciliation.
The Bid sought to rebuild after the horrific devastation of the area wrought by the tsunami of a few years ago. In a sense it was like seeking to construct a new sports city that would at once service the Games but also become the country’s high performance training facility in the future.
For the final thrust at winning the bid in St Kitts and Nevis Hambamtota brought 160 persons comprising delegates, entertainers and influential persons including the inimitable Muttiah Muralitharan of cricket fame.
The theme of Hambamantota was, Together – From the Heart
It was clear that the intention of Hambamtota was good. The presentation featured a virtual one-stop Games Centre with everything very close to each other and importantly in close proximity to the Games Village. The concept as very interesting and would win support anywhere in the world, even for an Olympic Games bid.
One of the most critical features of the bid however was that more than 90% of the facilities had to be constructed between now and the time of the Games seven years down the road, a tall order by any stretch of the imagination.
The bid team was aggressive, leaving no stone unturned in their attempt to garner support among the 71-nation community present in St Kitts and Nevis.
In large measure however the bid team seemed to have been hanging their hopes on sentiment. They perhaps reasoned that given the large number of developing nations represented in the Commonwealth Games Federation there would be an emotional attachment to a fellow country as it sought to win the right to host the Commonwealth Games of 2018.
The Gold Coast bid
The Gold Coast’s bid was presented under the theme, It’s our time to shine.
The Gold Coast is accustomed to hosting major international sports events.
The Bid Committee delivered its bid as a city already in preparation for the Games of 2018 with immense professionalism underscored by extensive research. The presentation left little doubt that the city is already prepared to host what could be one of the most successful and creative Commonwealth Games in history.
The Bid Committee offered the CGF and its Commonwealth Games Associations an experienced location and organisational team inclusive of volunteers.
Legacy for CGF
- Development of a regional model – highlighting the stance that not only very rich cities can host the Commonwealth Games. Sustainable facilities are critical to this and can aid in having countries come together to host the Games.
- Technically competent Games – make the athletes want to come to compete. This is why the dates being proposed, 4 – 15 April 2018. This is selected based on discussion with athletes around the world. The Organising Committee has been collaborating with Glasgow 2014 in this regard.
- Friendly Games – Life changing experience; schools programme; stay, learn and live the culture of the city.
- Multicultural relevance – the city is already multicultural. Visitors come from the world over.
- Sport development – $5m Fund is being considered by the CGF as an Olympic Solidarity type system for the CGF. The Bid Committee is prepared to participate for the development of sport among the CGF family. It is possible to collaborate with England and Canada to work on this.
- City legacy – 2018 would be the 21st Games of the CGF.
Other critical factors
All of the venues have been determined. The intention was to have sustainable venues.
Brisbane would host both Cycling and Shooting.
The respective International Federations have signed off on the OC’s proposed venues.
The venues have also been selected based on proximity to public transport routes. This has to do with encouraging patrons to use public transport to and from competitions. This is particularly convenient and very efficient.
The intention was to avoid construction of any venue that would not be sustainable in the city.
The majority of venues are either under State or Federal government control.
Regarding venues and naming rights the policy of the city has been to sign agreements that for international events they must be cleaned, allowing host organisations to name as they please given sponsorship.
A new indoor cycling Velodrome would be constructed in Brisbane and would serve to attract cyclists from across the entire country and the world to training and compete in the future.
Opening and Closing Ceremonies as well as Athletics would take place at the Carrara Stadium, which would be upgraded to accommodate 40,000. The warm up track would be an entirely new track.
In each case the Organising Committee would have very well defined legacy goals/usage in the post Games period based on the future development needs of the city.
In respect of procurement the plans include ensuring that all venues are completed and competition ready in time and on budget.
Athletes were allowed to make inputs in the conceptualisation of the CGV and its design.
The Dining Hall’s location very near the official entrance to the CGV is ideal for athletes especially when returning to the Village following training and competition.
The proximity of all of the facilities makes living easy for athletes.
The adjacent University Hospital would more than adequately complement the CGV’s Polyclinic.
The fact that each apartment has a balcony that overlooks the green area is great for athletes’ relaxation.
Winning the bid
The Gold Coast won the bid because of a number of important factors some of which are highlighted here.
- Important questions that the Gold Coast believed should lead to critical answers for CGAs considering the host city for the Commonwealth Games of 2018 established a platform for what was delivered in the Bid presentation. The key questions are:
- What can the Gold Coast deliver to meet the needs of the CGAs?
- How to realize genuinely friendly Games?
- How to ensure that the Commonwealth Games can bring together the best athletes in the CGF family?
- How can the Games be athlete friendly; what athletes want prior and during the Games?
- How to elevate the CGF Brand and that of the Games?
- How can we deliver Games that constitute a life-changing event for all participants?
- The location of the bid in the core values of the CGF, the values of the city, the identification of a clear, unambiguous vision, and the succinct legacy goals all speak to an approach that is meticulously studied and professionally delivered.
- Level of openness and honesty in the presentations. What is intended and why as well as what is possible and what is still to be considered and what is as yet unconfirmed
- Extremely confident in respect of the sustainability aspects of the facilities for the games in the post Games legacy feature of the OC’s planning process.
- The idea of having competition venues adjacent to public transportation routes is an amazing and convenient consideration and impacts the overall environment well-being.
- The schools programme even for the Bid stage speaks volumes for what is possible going forward through to 2018 and the realisation of the primary objectives of the Committee.
- The proposal for a Regional Model for hosting the Games of the future is critical to the CGF family.
- The plan to have a facility at the CGV where athletes and officials who are victims of criminal activities of any sort can lodge their complaints and have them addressed with some dispatch is most welcome.
- Clear evidence of a well researched approach to the planning process – learning from experiences of the city as well as organisers of previous Commonwealth Games and readiness to learn from evaluations of London 2012 Olympics and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
- Guarantee that the Organising Committee will meet the difference between airline prices in Candidature File and actual Games time prices.
Hambamtota suffered from the recent experience of Delhi, India, host of the Commonwealth Games of 2010. Several of the top leadership of the Delhi 2010 Organising Committee have been jailed and are still incarcerated for charges of corruption in relation to the organising and execution of the Games.
At the General Assembly it turned out that some 14 CGAs are yet to have their finances reconciled by the Delhi Organising Committee despite responding adequately to queries from the latter. This matter left a bitter taste amongst some CGAs.
Problems associated with the image surrounding Delhi 2010 appears to have already negatively impacted Glasgow the host city for the Commonwealth Games of 2014 in respect of its capacity to garner attractive television rights bids.
Hambamtota also suffered from the fact that many did not believe in the country’s capacity to deliver the extensive infrastructural works in the time frame left before the Games and would have been better served had there been evidence of infrastructure already constructed and sufficiently acceptable for the CGAs to be wooed.
The opportunities still exist for Hambamtota to bid again, perhaps for 2022 when, should it continue on its promise to develop the sports centre, it could easily win the right to host the Commonwealth Games of 2022.