Gold Coast’s Games Win to Boost Australian Economy, Bligh Says

The Australian city of Gold Coast will host the 2018 Commonwealth Games in a win that could boost the economy by A$2 billion ($2.1 billion), according to the Queensland state government.

Gold Coast won 43 votes, beating the Sri Lanka port city of Hambantota with 27, the Commonwealth Games Federation announced today in St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean. It will be the fifth Australian city to host the multisport event featuring teams from 71 countries and territories.

“Over A$500 million will now be invested on sport and transport infrastructure,” Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said in a statement today. The Games could generate up to 30,000 full time-equivalent jobs for Gold Coast, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) southeast of Queensland state’s capital, Brisbane, between 2015 and 2020, she said.

Since being proclaimed a city in 1959, Gold Coast has benefited from Australia’s rapid post-World War II economic expansion, with domestic and international tourists and migrants flocking to its beaches, warm climate and theme parks. It’s now the nation’s sixth-largest city with a population of 591,000 people, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Commonwealth member countries, in addition to major economies including India, Canada and Australia, include the African nations of South Africa and Nigeria, and Asian countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, will host the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2013.

‘Disappointing’ Loss

Hambantota, on Sri Lanka’s south coast, was aiming to be the third Asian venue to hold the Games. Delhi was the host city for last year’s event and Kuala Lumpur the 1998 edition.

“It is disappointing” to lose the bid, Hambantota 2018 Organising Committee Co-Chair Ajith Nivard Cabraal said in a separate statement. “We will make good our promise to rejuvenate the region regardless of this outcome.”

Hambantota will still become one of Sri Lanka’s five “metropolitan” cities, focusing on international investment and with a population forecast to reach 1.2 million by 2018, Cabraal said.

Gold Coast will follow Melbourne, which hosted the 2006 Commonwealth Games, as the latest Australian city to hold the event. Brisbane, Perth and Sydney have also staged it.

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