The dream of Mahinda Rajapaksa's regime in hosting the "2018 commonwealth games " in Hambantota has been threatned by as an evaluation report which questions Sri Lanka's ability to hold such mega event while rights group criticized the island nation's rights records.
Hambantota is contesting against Australian favorite Gold Coast which is already developed with most of its sporting infrastructure in place. Nearby Brisbane hosted the 1982 Games.
Compared to Gold Coast, Hambantota has hardly any infrastructure. The port town emerged on the sporting scene only this year when it hosted two World Cup cricket matches.
Sri Lankan officials have promised to build the necessary infrastructure facilities, incluidng sports villages etc and hopes to spend up to $6 billion on games projects a colossal sum of money.
Sri Lanka has said it's drawing inspiration from Malaysia's successful Commonwealth Games in believing it can beat Australia.
Sri Lanka's sports authorities belives that Hambantota can emulate Kuala Lumpur by heading off a glamorous opponent.
Kuala Lumpur won a vote with southern Australia city Adelaide to become the first Asian city to host the games in 1998.
Australia and Canada have hosted the games four times each. England, Scotland and Wales have hosted five games combined, while New Zealand has had three games.
But, a commonwealth evaluation report said Hambantota would be a riskier option to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games than a rival bid from Australia's Gold Coast.
Officials say they are satisfied that Hambantota could guarantee a "safe and peaceful" games following the defeat of the LTTE in 2009. But they warn that significant investment is needed in telecommunications infrastructure, transport and hospitals.
The reports says staging the games in Hambantota presents a "medium-to-high risk," whereas Australia's Gold Coast offers a "low risk."
The report, released Thursday, says the evaluation commission "believes the overarching consideration that differentiates the two projects is the matter of risk."
Meanwhile. Human Rights Watch group said the situation of Sri Lanka "continues to be characterised by serious human rights violations, including assault on democratic institutions, such as the media and trade unions."
In a letter to the Commonwealth foreign minsters, the group said the consideration of Sri Lanka as host of the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting(CHOGM) appears grossly inappropriate in the above context.
"Awarding the next CHOGM to Sri Lanka would not only undermine the fundamental values on which the Commonwealth is based, but also has the potential to render the Commonwealth's commitment to human rights and the promise of reforms meaningless,"it said.
They urged that the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group " should call on the government of Sri Lanka to meet a specific set of benchmarks within an agreed upon timeline in order to prove itself worthy of hosting the Commonwealth's emblematic meeting in 2013."
The winning bid will be announced in St. Kitts and Nevis on Nov. 11.
Glasgow, Scotland will host the 2014 version.