October 20 - Mike Hooper, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), said his organisation will not speculate on the issue regarding threats to expel Sri Lanka's membership of the Commonwealth despite the fact that Sri Lankan city Hambantota is bidding against the Gold Coast in Australia to the 2018 Games.

Calls to remove Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth came after the Australian Federal Police (AFP) recently received a war crimes dossier from the International Commission of Jurists alleging that Sri Lankan authorities shelled innocent civilians during the long civil war in the country that ended in 2009.

AFP Commissioner Tony Negus said the allegations are being treated as "a matter of urgency" and they include claims that Sri Lanka's top diplomat in Australia Thisara Samarasinghe, the former Sri Lankan navy chief, was in charge of ships that fired on unarmed civilians as they fled the fighting in the final stages of the civil war.

The issue is a major distraction for Hambantota who are in the final stages of their closely contested bid race to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games and on November 11, the 71 Commonwealth nations and territories will gather at the CGF General Assembly in St Kitts to vote on whether the Gold Coast or the Sri Lankan city will host the competition.

But Hooper said the issue will have no effect on the bid race and that it is not a matter for the CGF to concern themselves with.

"It's not the Commonwealth Games Federation's role to speculate on stories about individual nations, and membership of the Commonwealth is a matter for the Commonwealth itself and not the Federation," he told insidethegames.

"In St Kitts next month we're simply looking forward to the culmination of a very competitive bid process for the hosting of the 2018 Commonwealth Games."

Hambantota are hoping that hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games will help the country rebuild from the 26-year-long civil war in Sri Lanka which began in 1983 and saw an estimated 100,000 people killed the fight between the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Earlier this year, the Hambantota bid was forced on the back foot when British broadcaster Channel 4 aired a one-hour documentary in June entitled Sri Lanka's Killing Fields.

It documented the final stages of the conflict and showed horrific footage including Government soldiers executing bound prisoners; the dead bodies of naked, abused women dumped in a truck and the bombing of civilian hospitals.

Sri Lankan Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage (pictured above right with Hooper) told insidethegames that it was "a completely false documentary" that would have "no bearing on the Hambantota 2018 bid for the Commonwealth Games at all."

But as the latest allegations emerge, the Hambantota 2018 bid have found an unlikely ally in Gold Coast 2018 bid chairman Mark Stockwell who says his team are unconcerned by the issue and simply focused on a great competitor.

"Sri Lanka has just finished 24 years of civil war and there are a lot of people around the world who want to see Sri Lanka get on with life and that's the thing that I'm really concerned about," said Stockwell.

"I mean they're a great competitor and we want to run the Commonwealth Games because we love the Games and we love a good sporting event.

"The Sri Lankans are looking at this as a nation building exercise."

Stockwell's comments come just a week before Perth hosts the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011 from October 28-30.

It will be hosted by the Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard while Queen Elizabeth, the Head of the Commonwealth and the Patron of the CGF, has already arrived in Australia ahead of the event with husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, where she has been warmly greeted by the public.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is also due be in attendance at the meeting where the war crimes allegations are certain to be brought up.

-Tom Degun

Source: www.insidethegames.biz

October 18 - Canada's Bruce Robertson, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) vice-president, claims that the vote on who will stage the 2018 competition presents a difficult choice for members with Australia's Gold Coast and Sri Lanka's Hambantota both bidding to host the event.

Delegates from 71 Commonwealth nations and territories will gather to cast one vote each at the CGF General Assembly on November 11 in St Kitts and Nevis to determine the hosts of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

CGF vice president Robertson - who is also the chair of the CGF Marketing Committee and the Glasgow 2014 Coordination Commission - feels that voting delegates face a tough decision on which bid to choose due to the fact that there is such a contrast between the Gold Coast and Hambantota.

"The 2018 vote will be a very difficult choice for our members to make because the two bids are so different," Robertson told insidethegames.

"Both cities have completely different ideas about how they want to lever their investment in the Games and both offer very different environments and therefore completely contrasting approaches.

"The Gold Coast has a lot of established venues and a lot of organisational capacity.

"Hambantota has a wonderful concept around their Games city but obviously the venues there have not yet been built so they will certainly have some delivery challenges over a seven-year project.

"So it will be a very interesting vote and I am quite honestly not sure which way the members are going to go."

Robertson, a former swimmer who won multiple medals at both the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games in the 1970s, continued that he is pleased to see two such different bids for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

"It is fantastic that there is so much interest in the Commonwealth Games as a property and opportunity," he said.

"The 2018 bid race shows just what the event can do for a city and a country regardless of the state of infrastructure or economy in the region and I wish both the Gold Coast and Hambantota the best of luck."

During the CGF General Assembly in St Kitts and Nevis, Robertson will be bidding for a third term as CGF vice-president having been in the role since 2003.

He faces tough competition to secure one of the two CGF vice-presidency places, as he is one of four strong candidates bidding alongside England's Ian Emmerson, South Africa's Gideon Sam and Kip Keino of Kenya.

Malaysia's Prince Tunku Imran, who is currently the other CGF vice-president serving alongside Robertson, will take over from Jamaica's Mike Fennell as CGF President at the General Assembly next month after he was the only candidate to put himself forward when the deadline for candidates closed in August this year.

The announcement of the 2018 Commonwealth Games host in St Kitts and Nevis will be Fennell's last act as President following a successful 17 years in charge and he will step down and become a life vice-president of the organisation.

-Tom Degun

Source: www.insidethegames.biz

Badminton is set for an increased profile in the Commonwealth following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the sport’s international governing body, Badminton World Federation (BWF) and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).

Collaborating under the banner of “CGF/BWF - Partners Uniting the Commonwealth through Sport”, the two organisations will work to showcase and promote world class badminton competition in the CGF’s 71 member countries and territories.

The MOU will also focus on improving participation levels among able-bodied and para-sport athletes, particularly in the Commonwealth’s developing nations.

The CGF will also consult with the BWF on ways to further enhance the overall Games experience for competitors and officials at the Games.

Spectators, both those attending a Commonwealth Games or following the Games through various media channels, will also benefit from this partnership.

The CGF and BWF will jointly develop a media and communications plan around each edition of the Commonwealth Games and, where applicable, the Commonwealth Youth Games, to spread the word across the Commonwealth.

The MOU, signed by CGF President, The Hon. Michael Fennell OJ.,CD, and BWF President, Dr Kang Young Joong, is a broad-ranging document that commits each party a greater level of consultation, collaboration and sharing of information at each Games and in the years between.

Badminton is one of the “Core Sports” on the Commonwealth Games program, meaning that all host cities must include the sport in their competition schedule.

CGF CEO, Mike Hooper, says the MOU has further strengthened the CGF’s relationship with the sport.

“Badminton is a very popular sport within the Commonwealth and we are delighted to work with the world body to promote the game to our member nations and to establish a robust framework for the operation of the sport at the time of each Games,” Mr Hooper said.

BWF President, Dr Kang, believes this partnership will bring about many positives for the future of both organisations.

“The dialogue with the CGF to get to this point has been very good and we see the MOU as being very constructive in helping us widen the appeal of our sport throughout the Commonwealth,” Dr Kang said.

Source: www.sportcom.com.au/thecgf

altOctober 12 - Mike Hooper, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), has said that the race between Australia's Gold Coast and Sri Lanka's Hambantota to host the 2018 event is one of the most exciting ever.

The battle has now entered the final stages with less than a month to go until the 71 Commonwealth nations and territories gather decide on who will host the event at the CGF General Assembly on November 11 in St Kitts and Nevis.

Hooper was part of the five-person Evaluation Commission that inspected both the Gold Coast and Hambantota earlier this year before publishing the 144-page report on the two bidding cities that was sent to all of the CGF's 71-member nations and territories to help inform them of the technical merits of each proposal.

He said that the fact that the bids are so entirely different has helped to make this such an exciting race.

"We have two very different bids as we outlined in our evaluation commission report earlier this year," Hooper told insidethegames.

"When you look at Hambantota, it is certainly an exciting proposition with the unique masterplan that they have put forward.

"There are obviously logistical challenges, which the team in Sri Lanka have acknowledged themselves, but there can be no questioning of the level of commitment from our friends in Hambantota to deliver on the promises they have made.

"In the Gold Coast, we have a lot of existing infrastructure and facilities and certainly the foundations for a great event in 2018.

"There is clearly slightly less risk with the Gold Coast bid but you cannot really draw comparisons between the two as they are totally different bids.

"Ultimately, it our 71 member nations and territories that will decide and it is for them to make the assessment call on which direction they want to take the Commonwealth Games.

"We will find out on November 11 but this has certainly been one of the most exciting contests we have had for the Commonwealth Games and I'm sure that the excitement will continue right up to the vote itself."

altThe announcement of the decision at the St Kitts Marriott Resort is set to be made at 18:00 Local Time by CGF President Mike Fennell (pictured right).

The announcement will be Fennell's last act as President as the Jamaican will step down straight after the CGF General Assembly and become a life vice-president of the organisation.

Current CGF vice-president Prince Tunku Imran of Malaysia is set to take up the role of Presidency, as he is the only candidate standing for election for the position in St Kitts and Nevis.

A live internet feed of the decision will be available on the CGF's website at www.thecgf.com, while the General Assembly will be the first time ever that an electronic vote has taken place for the Commonwealth Games.

Hooper says he is looking forward to the introduction of the electronic voting system despite the fact that there have been major failures with the process, perhaps most notably at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Congress in Daegu in August when votes had to be farcically be re-run after technical problems.

"We are aware of some problems with the electronic voting system at other international sporting bodies but that is not a major concern for us," said Hooper.

"We have tested our thoroughly technology for the vote next month but obviously we will have a Plan B if necessary.

"The electronic system is certainly more efficient and timelier and we have done a lot of research on the matter so we are confident it will work.

"There is a lot involved with the technology and obviously we are doing a live broadcast of the vote at the same time but we have everything in place and I think the new electronic system will be nice addition to the General Assembly and help add to the drama as the votes come in."

Source: www.insidethegames.biz

By Tom Degun

altAugust 21 - Hambantota's bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games has received the endorsement of Kip Keino, one of the most influential athletes in history and a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The Kenyan, visiting Sri Lanka to help promote the Colombo Marathon which is due to take place on October 2, has claimed that awarding the Games to Hambantota would help accelerate the development of the country's top athletes.

"I came to see what Sri Lanka can offer at Commonwealth Games in 2018," said Keino.

"What I saw here is a nation very rich with humanity, culture and great hospitality."

The Commonwealth Games played an important role in Keino's career.

It was his gold medals in the mile and three miles at the 1966 Games in Kingston, Jamaica, which launched him onto the international stage.

Two years later he won the 1500 metres at the Olympics in Mexico City and then at Munich in 1972 he claimed victory in the 3,000m steeplechase.

Keino's performances provided inspiration for more Kenyan runners to believe they could compete at the highest level, eventually leading to the dominance they enjoy now.

"I also saw a country with great potential in the field of sports," said Keino, who is now 71, after arriving in Sri Lanka.

"There are talented athletes in this country who are eager to move up to the global arena and what they need is exposure."

The Commonwealth Games Federation is due to choose the host city for 2018 at its Assembly in St Kitts and Nevis on November 11 where Hambantota will face rivals the Gold Coast.

Source: www.insidethegames.biz

By Duncan Mackay

The Commonwealth Games Federation’s (CGF) Coordination Commission (CoCom) today concluded its four-day visit to Glasgow, the first of six which will take place in the lead-up to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Summarising the CoCom’s findings, Bruce Robertson, Vice President of the CGF and Chair of the Commission, said:
“The project is on course. There are no ‘red flags’.”
“We are satisfied with progress including the great strength of partnership, progress on planning and delivery of the major infrastructure elements such as the Athletes’ Village and the sports venues, and the clear focus on generating value and legacy for the people of Glasgow and Scotland.
“The Commonwealth Games are a catalyst for positive change and real economic impact.  As an example, 78% of contracts awarded have gone to Scottish companies.  The Games will create hundreds of jobs and will achieve sustainable benefits for Glasgow enhancing skills, regeneration of strategically important parts of the city, and developing improved amenity and opportunities for sport and healthy lifestyles.
“The Games governance structures are in good order.  The partnership across the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council and the Organising Committee is impressive; as good as we have seen of any recent Games.  Evidence of this partnership can be found in the great job Glasgow City Council have done in delivering the primary venue development with all projects on time and within budget.  All of this has been in close collaboration with the Organising Committee.
“We reviewed a number of areas, such as infrastructure, security, transport, workforce ramp up, finance, management and planning; none of the outcomes of the reviews were a surprise to us or the Organising Committee at this stage of the planning process. With just under three years to go the focus now moves on to detailed operational planning.  2014 may seem a long way off, but the level of activity typically accelerates at this stage of a Games project and we all need to shift into the next gear to keep pace.”
“The next Coordination Commission visit is set for April 2012 and at that time we will be looking for the Organising Committee to have recruited more staff. We’ll also be undertaking a further review of Glasgow’s plans for transforming venues into Games-ready facilities, reviewing the sports programme, finalising the routes for the road courses and reviewing the Organising Committee’s ticketing programme. “

Glasgow 2014 Chief Executive David Grevemberg said:

“We are on track and on budget and we’re absolutely delighted to show the Coordination Commission members our progress, as well as discuss the pathway ahead of us. We have achieved a great deal to date, we have a great team and we are confident we will deliver an outstanding Games.”

Councillor Archie Graham, Executive Member for the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow City Council, said:

“I am delighted with the findings of the Commonwealth Games Federation. Glasgow City Council has been making steady progress on delivering the venues and facilities we are providing for the Games, and we are already seeing results from some of the legacy projects which will make a real difference to the lives of Glaswegians, such as the 1,500 school leavers who are now in apprenticeship places.”

Shona Robison, Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, said:

“The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games will provide us with the opportunity to show the world what vibrant and welcoming places both Glasgow and Scotland are, and in return we’ll have the honour of welcoming some of the world’s greatest athletes to this country.
“I am very pleased with the positive feedback received and I would like to congratulate the Organising Committee and partners on all the work they have done so far. With little more than 1,000 days to go the venues and infrastructure are rising from the ground in Glasgow and all across Scotland people are getting involved and feeling the excitement that the Games will bring.”

Michael Cavanagh, Commonwealth Games Scotland’s Chairman, said:

“Commonwealth Games Scotland welcomes the comments from the first visit of the CGF Coordination Commission. Delivering a Games that reflects and meets the needs of athletes and the Commonwealth Games Associations has always been our prime objective. The useful interaction and advice from the Coordination Commission will help ensure we remain well on track to do so whilst also delivering a great Games and legacy for Glasgow and Scotland.”

Note to Editors

1.    The Commonwealth Games Federation appoints a Co-ordination Commission (or 'CoCom') for each Commonwealth Games. The role of the CoCom is to provide advice and support to the organisers, utilising the members' experience of past Games, to provide technical support through the CGF's Knowledge Management programme, and to oversee and ensure compliance with the commitments and undertakings that Glasgow entered into under the host city agreement.
2.    For further information, please contact the Glasgow 2014 press office at 0141 287 3457 or Peter Murphy, Head of Communications, Commonwealth Games Federation on  0792 002 5575.