Source: www.insidethegames.biz  By Duncan Mackay

 Source: www.insidethegames.biz  By Duncan Mackay   September 26 - Gold Coast's bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games could be aided by the problems which have overshadowed New Delhi's preparations, the city's Mayor Ron Clarke (pictured) has claimed, but he also warned Sri Lankan rivals Hambantota should not be written off because they may have the backing of China.   Clarke, the former world record holder for 10,000 metres, is optimistic that the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) members will view Gold Coast as a safe choice when they come to vote on the venue for 2018 at its meeting next year.  September 26 - Gold Coast's bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games could be aided by the problems which have overshadowed New Delhi's preparations, the city's Mayor Ron Clarke (pictured) has claimed, but he also warned Sri Lankan rivals Hambantota should not be written off because they may have the backing of China.

Clarke, the former world record holder for 10,000 metres, is optimistic that the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) members will view Gold Coast as a safe choice when they come to vote on the venue for 2018 at its meeting next year.

"We can be seen to be the new breath of fresh air, we could be the resurrection of the Games," he told the Brisbane Times.

"We could stage a wonderful Commonwealth Games and, if necessary, we could be the saviour of them."

Hambantota would be the smallest ever city to host the Games if they are chosen.

It has a population of only 11,000 - although that raises to 525,000 in the surrounding area - but is at the centre of a massive investment by China, who have identified it as a key strategic point in the Indian Ocean on the shipping route between the Suez Canal and the Malacca Straits.

Last month Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa opened the first phase of a China-funded $1.5 billion (£973 million) port project in Hambantota.

"China is supporting them [Hambantota] and China has got lots of money to build new facilities and they have provided facilities and financial assistance to a lot of Commonwealth countries, particularly in Africa," said Clarke.

"So if they want to call in their charge, then no matter how it appears on the surface, that could have an influence on votes.

"We're respecting their bid - there's always that question about what does that Chinese investment mean for the bid, but no-one has the answers to those questions.

"This is not a lay down misere - you see what's happening in cricket at the moment, where suddenly there are different influences playing out.

"We're in a much more political world than we've ever been."

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh is due to travel to New Delhi later this week to continue lobbying on behalf of the Gold Coast's bid.

She will be joined by Federal Sport Minister Mark Arbib and other Gold Coast representatives CGF's General Assembly on Saturday (October 2) - the day before the Games are due to begin.


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