Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennell said: "It is most pleasing to have two cities from different regions of the Commonwealth vying for the right to host the 2018 Games. We have India hosting the Games for the first time in 2010, Glasgow already selected for the 2014 Games as a European host, and now we know we will be in either the Oceania or Asia region for the 2018 edition.
"Each city has recognised the enormous benefits that flow from hosting a Commonwealth Games. A successful bid provides an opportunity to provide a legacy for future generations. I am confident that each city will put forward a strong case for selection."
Hambantota is a small coastal city in the south of Sri Lanka and has been chosen as one of the venues for the 2011 Cricket World Cup. It was hard hit by the tsunami that struck the area in 2004, and that factor is likely to give the Sri Lankan venue an emotional appeal. However, the country has been beset by civil war in recent years, and the long-running armed conflict came to an end only ten months ago when the Tamil Tigers separatist organisation was defeated by the Sri Lankan military.
The Gold Coast is the sixth biggest city in Australia and is on the southern coast of Queensland.
The decision to name the 2018 host city will be taken by the CGF general assembly, consisting of representatives of all 71 member nations and territories, when it meets in St Kitts and Nevis in October next year.
It also emerged yesterday that Fiji will not be able to compete at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi after the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed an appeal against their exclusion, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has confirmed.
Athletes from the Pacific Island nation had been banned from competing at the Games after the Commonwealth suspended Fiji last September for failing to meet a deadline on holding general elections in the country.
"The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed the case... seeking the right for Fiji to participate at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in October this year," the CGF said.
The Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee lodged an appeal with CAS in January. Fiji has been run by a military regime since self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama seized power in a coup in 2006. Bainimarama's critics have called on him to hold fresh elections but he has ruled out a vote until 2014.
Meanwhile, Chris Nesbit has been appointed head coach of the England swimming team for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October. Nesbit guided the British team at the World Short-Course Championships in Manchester two years ago and he has spent the past five years heading the Offshore Centre in Australia.
As Portsmouth Northsea head coach, Nesbit helped Katy Sexton and Gemma Spofforth to their backstroke world titles.
He said: "This opportunity comes at a great time for me after finishing my five years at the offshore centre. This head coach position is a role that all senior coaches would be very pleased and excited to be a part of and I'm looking forward to it.
"On a personal note, I've coached around 25 per cent of the possible team at some point or another so it's great to continue the journey with them to Delhi and face together the tough challenge of a Commonwealth Games."