KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, April 11- Australia's Gold Coast and Sri Lanka's Hambantota lodged their bid books Wednesday in the contest to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The two cities, which are the only contenders for the right to hold the event, both vowed to spend billions of dollars to build new accommodation, hotels and infrastructure to ensure successful Games.
Neither has previously hosted the Games, and both expressed optimism, saying they would be an opportunity to recover from natural disasters — the deadly 2010 floods in Queensland and the 2004 tsunami in Hambantota.
The Sri Lankan city was severely affected by the tsunami, which left massive destruction and killed many residents.
The Gold Coast delegation for the submission to the Commonwealth Games Federation in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur included Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, while Hambantota’s group included national sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamaga.
Hambantota bid committee co-chairman Ajith Nivard Cabraal said the Games would secure long-term and sustainable social and economic benefits for Sri Lanka with the government investing some 2.5 billion pounds ($4.10 billion).
"We are serious about the bid," he said, downplaying suggestions that the delays and corruption allegations that hit India’s New Delhi Games last year could be repeated in Sri Lanka.
The event would enhance national unity following years of internal conflict, he added.
Gold Coast’s bid chairman Mark Stockwell, a former international swimmer, said Australia would spend some A$1.7 billion (US$1.8 billion) for the games village and other expenses to ensure a strong Commonwealth Games.
"I am impressed by the Sri Lankan bid. We are in a competition and we will try to beat them," he said.
Inspections will take place before a final presentation by the two cities to the Commonwealth Games Federation general assembly in St Kitts and Nevis on November 11. Members will then vote and the winner will be declared.