(ATR) In the week when Seoul announced a proposal to jointly host an Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032 with South and North Korea, Brisbane quietly delivered its latest 2032 submission to the IOC.
Brisbane, Australia (Wikimedia Commons)
This milestone in the IOC’s “targeted dialogue” phase with Queensland’s Capital City required the Australians to provide firmer detail on their plans to organize the Olympics and Paralympics.
Brisbane and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) are playing their cards close to their chest. Australian organizers are mindful that the 2032 host city will be the first chosen by the IOC under a new format for Olympic bids that eliminates the costly and complicated international campaigns that were once part of the process.
Brisbane, the Australian Federal Government and the AOC are aware that, following three years of careful planning, they now inhabit a unique status – and are understandably conscious of not putting a public foot wrong and undermining the IOC’s current trust in them.
So, what might a Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games look like?
When speaking to those close to the Brisbane Bid the phrase “spoiled for choice” is a recurring theme.
The Queensland State Government and the sporting authorities are leaning on their experience of successfully delivering the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Many of the senior officials who worked on that event are preparing this latest dossier and advising on their 2032 Bid.
John Coates, Thomas Bach, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison & Australian ambassador to Japan Jan Adams met in Tokyo last year. (Australian NOC)
Equally, a handful of senior Australian Olympic officials who worked on the Sydney 2000 Olympics are sharing their view on what works. None are more experienced than AOC President and IOC Vice-President John Coates, whose guiding hand has assisted Brisbane to navigate waters to this point of the IOC’s new process.
As a consequence, there is internal confidence that up to 85 percent of the venues are already in place (or can be temporarily erected) and the new bidding rules work well for Brisbane, which has the Gold Coast immediately to its south (an hour by car) and the Sunshine Coast to the north (90 minutes by car) and ‘on its doorstep’, thereby creating a three-pronged Games nucleus that would place the vast majority of venues within a 200-kilometer (124-mile) radius of Brisbane’s City Centre.
Locals believe that Barcelona is the closest example of what a Brisbane Games might look like.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and IOC president Bach at Olympic House in Sept. 2019. (IOC Media)
One senior Queensland government official told Around the Rings
“The Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk watched the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and said: “I want to go there”, which she did. We feel that these Games will similarly put Brisbane and Queensland on the global map and will generate an incredibly positive post-COVID bounce for tourism to this region, which is a critical industry for the state of Queensland.”
The feeling is that overseas visitors will be attracted to visiting a Brisbane Olympic Games that will only be within a 90-minute plane flight north to one of the world’s great natural wonders – the Great Barrier Reef. Indeed, if keelboat sailing is incorporated into the 2032 Olympic Program, then those events could take place beside the backdrop of Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands – which is on the entrance to the Reef and often tops lists of the world’s favorite beaches.
The IOC are known to have been impressed with how the Australian Government, and Queensland in particular, have handled the pandemic with extremely low cases of community transmission and not a single local COVID-19 death in the state of 5.5 million people in over 12 months. More than 68,000 Australians have permanently moved into Queensland during the pandemic, partly because of its handling of the health crisis.
Like London before it, organizers are contemplating using beauty spots as backdrops and Brisbane’s rolling Victoria Park and nearby Showgrounds could provide the city skyline backdrop to equestrian and BMX events, mirroring London’s clever use of picturesque Greenwich Park in 2012.
The sun is likely to be a permanent feature of 2032, if Brisbane is selected. Queenslanders joke that a pair of slippers can last 25 years in the “Sunshine State” and winter generally only requires them to change from shorts to long trousers, momentarily.
Plenty of Viable Venues
Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane (Suncorp Stadium)
There are an array of existing training and competition venues that will be used, including Suncorp Stadium, regarded by most as the best rectangular rugby stadium on the planet, and walkable from the city center.
It remains to be seen whether organizers will recommend the creation of a new stadium for the Olympics or use existing venues for ceremonies and athletics. One site at Albion Park, in Brisbane’s inner-north, is the subject of local discussion. If the stadium is built, it is believed the capacity will be significantly more modest than Sydney 2000’s Stadium Australia, which accommodated well over 110,000 fans. The Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast, which was used for the opening and closing ceremonies and the athletics competition during the Commonwealth Games, provides a second viable option as a possible main track and field stadium.
understands that competitors would be able to view the picturesque Brisbane River from the Athletes’ Village and that the riverside venue (in the Hamilton area of the city) would be “excellently ventilated” to provide reassurance to athletes in a post-COVID world.
In central Brisbane, there are already plans to build a new Entertainment Centre called ‘Brisbane Live’ over the top of the Roma Street rail yards. This 17,000-seat facility could host sports such as basketball.
Brisbane Convention Centre would be used for table tennis, fencing, taekwondo and badminton. (Facebook)
The indoor sports center at Coomera on the Gold Coast would host volleyball while Brisbane’s existing Convention Centre, located centrally on the banks of the Brisbane River, will be used for table tennis, fencing, taekwondo and badminton.
The Gold Coast’s Royal Pine Rivers resort will showcase golf with beach volleyball enjoying the Broadwater Beach venue at Surfer’s Paradise. What could be more Australian?
Many of world’s best Olympic swimmers hail from Queensland, including the multi-medal winning Campbell sisters, and a new Brisbane Aquatic Centre in the city’s east - next door to the proposed gymnastics venue - is the preferred solution in Brisbane for 2032.
Organizers also have the flexibility to fall back on the Gold Coast swimming facility used in 2018, if they so choose. The Anna Meares Velodrome, a modern legacy from the Commonwealth Games, is slated to host the track cycling events and is in the same eastern corridor.
Up at the Sunshine Coast, the marathon, road cycling, mountain biking and kiteboarding events would enjoy a stunning beachside backdrop at Alexandra Heads, where the inviting Pacific Ocean is in full view.
Townsville Stadium opened in 2020. (Wikipedia)
Regional northern Queensland will get its fair share too. Soccer qualifiers are already penciled in for existing facilities in tropical Cairns and Townsville. The Townsville stadium is brand new and opened just before the pandemic struck.
Everyone involved is keen to continue to act with humility and not get too carried away, conscious that the IOC tick is not yet a given. However, the ‘larrakin’ Aussie sense of humor is never far away. As one Queensland official told ATR
: “Everyone has happy memories of Australia from Sydney 2000. Wait till they find out there are parts of Australia that are even better.
“We hope to showcase this gem to the world in 2032. We respect the IOC process; we’ve had our heads down and have been working hard on these plans - and we believe we have a compelling case to continue to present.”
IOC: No Timeline for a Decision
It will be interesting to understand the IOC’s reaction to the latest dossier. A spokesman for the IOC did not provide any timeline for a decision for 2032 last week and was quick to highlight that the process is not concluded with Brisbane.
"The Future Host Commission will report back to the IOC EB on the outcome of these discussions in due course. If all the requirements are met, the IOC EB can propose the election of the future host of the Games of XXXV Olympiad to the IOC Session. If the discussions are not successfully concluded, Brisbane 2032 will re-join the continuous dialogue," the IOC official added.
Brisbane is clear that this is a marathon, not a sprint but is hoping Australia once again has the knowledge and vision to win this race and the right to host the world’s biggest sporting events.
Written by Philip Pope, who was the Head of Communications at the British Olympic Association from 2001-2005 during London’s 2012 bidding phase. He is the former Public Affairs Manager of Cricket Australia and the former General Manager Communications, Queensland Rugby Union. He is currently the Director of Media Services for the Curious Minds Agency in Brisbane.
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