Despite losing 2018 Commonwealth Games bid to Gold
Hambantota sports city project to continue
Hambantota District Parliamentarian, Namal Rajapaksa
BASSETERRE: St. Kitts and Nevis. Nov. 12. – Sri Lanka, despite losing
its 2018 Commonwealth Games bid to Australia’s Gold Coast City, would go
ahead with its new sports city project in Hambantota.
Hambantota District Parliamentarian, Namal Rajapaksa said that the
original plan to construct a new sports city near the international
cricket stadium in Suriyawewa would continue as planned.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer, shortly after
Gold Coast ousted Hambantota by 43 votes to 27 to become the host city
of the 2018 Commonwealth Games during the Commonwealth Games Federation
General Assembly at Saint Kitts Marriott today, parliamentarian
Rajapaksa said that he would fulfil the promise that he had made to the
people. “There could be only one winner.
As sportsmen, we have to take both victory and defeat in true spirit.
Hambantota made its mark to attract support of 27 countries but the
majority decided that the Gold Coast bid was better. We respect that
decision,” he said.
However, the former Sri Lank Youth rugby captain said his team is
determined in defeat, even to attract larger multisport events to
Hambantota in future. “I have made a pledge to people, especially to
those who are in the Southern Province.
I will fulfil that by making Hambantota Sports City project a
reality,” he said.
“Under any circumstance, we will not abandon the project just because
our bid was unsuccessful. We would go ahead as planned and complete all
stadia by 2016 to host the South Asian Games. That was what we
originally planned,” he added.
“I will make every effort to make Hambantota a leading sports
destination in the world. We intend to complete the entire project on
schedule as planned and stage a grand prix event there in 2017. The
world would then realize that we could take challenges and meet
deadlines,” he continued.
Parliamentarian Rajapaksa added that the youth in the South,
especially those who are in Hambantota district, have been eagerly
looking forward to Hambantota Sports City project and that he is not
going to shatter their dream just because Sri Lanka fell short of just
nine votes at the Commonwealth Games Federation.
Minister of Sports Mahindananda Aluthgamage said they would extend
the fullest support to make Hambantota an important sports hub. He said
that Sri Lanka is not unduly worried about losing the bid. “It is not
the winning or losing that matters but how one played the game. We gave
a good fight to Gold Coast with an equally strong bid. But there could
be only one winner,” he explained.
He said the country’s third international athletic stadium would be
built in Hambantota as the government is keen to offer better
infrastructure facilities to budding athletes in the provinces and in
order to sharpen the skills of rural athletes.
It would be built in the close vicinity of the new Mahinda Rajapaksa
International Cricket Stadium in Suriyawewa which was constructed to
host the 2011 ICC World Cup tournament matches.
The Minister added that the construction work of the new Hambantota
International Athletic Stadium, which includes a separate 200m warm up
track apart from the main 400m competition track, will commence early
next year. It would include all facilities to meet international
All other structures in the original Hambantota Sports City project,
including the indoor stadium for badminton, table tennis, netball,
badminton, wrestling volleyball and boxing would be built. There will
also be a special international swimming pool complex that could hold
any world class meet.
Minister Aluthgamage said a new era of sports development has begun
under President Mahinda Rajapaksa, with the construction of two new
cricket stadiums in Suriyawewa and Pallekele and the redevelopment of
Premadasa Stadium. “We also constructed a brand new sports stadium
complex in Diyagama, Homagama. Never in Sri Lanka’s sports history that
such an amount of stadia were built to develop infrastructure that is
needed for a healthy nation. We are determined to continue this trend
and make a healthy nation,” he said.