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Brisbane’s “irresistible” 2032 Olympics bid set for approval

Brisbane is set to be confirmed as the host of the 2032 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games ahead of the start of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games next month, with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach stating an “irresistible” proposal has been made to return the Olympics to Australia.

The decision from the IOC Executive Board (EB) sets up what will essentially be a rubber-stamping of Brisbane 2032 at its 138th Session in Tokyo on July 21. The IOC in February confirmed Brisbane as its preferred candidate to host the 2032 Games, with the city commended for its venue masterplan.

Brisbane is set to become the third Australian city to host the Summer Olympics after Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000. At the time, the IOC said it had taken the decision to advance the host selection process given the “uncertainty” the world is facing amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The process, a departure from the traditional approach to awarding Olympic Games hosting rights, culminated in Brisbane’s Value Proposition being presented as a Final Submission in response to the IOC’s Future Host Questionnaire in May.

Under the IOC’s new flexible approach to future host elections, two Future Host Commissions (Summer and Winter) are permanently open to exploratory, non-committal discussions with cities, regions and countries, and their respective National Olympic Committees (NOCs), on their ambitions to host the Olympic and Youth Olympic Games.

Outlining the merits of Brisbane’s bid, the IOC touted a strong masterplan using 84% existing and temporary venues, 32 in total in Brisbane and throughout the state of Queensland, set against a “spectacular backdrop”. The remaining venues will be delivered well in advance and irrespective of the Games to meet the needs of a fast-growing population.

In April, it was announced that The Gabba will undergo major redevelopment work as part of plans for the stadium to serve as the centrepiece of the proposed Games in Queensland. The stadium has a current capacity of 42,000 and is primarily used for cricket but also hosts AFL Aussie rules football and other sports.

The upgrade to the stadium, which is formally known as the Brisbane Cricket Ground, would increase its capacity to around 50,000. Design firm Populous has provided concept designs for a possible upgrade of the stadium.

The IOC also said the Brisbane bid enjoys strong support from all three levels of government, the Australian population, and the private sector. Brisbane 2032 is said to have provided a clear Olympic and Paralympic vision, designed to be as inclusive as possible, with a “10+10+” legacy concept spanning 10 years before and 10 years after the Games. A commitment to sustainability, and climate-positive and athlete-centric Games has been provided.

Kristin Kloster Aasen, chair of the IOC’s Future Host Commission for the Games of the Olympiad, said: “Our Commission has worked closely with Brisbane 2032 through a collaborative partnership to explore how their vision, concept and legacy plans for the Olympic and Paralympic Games could align with social and economic development plans for the city and the region.

“The new approach to electing Olympic hosts has enabled this project to be enhanced as part of a two-way conversation, honouring our commitment that the Olympic Games should adapt to the needs of the host and their population, and not the reverse.”

An independent economic assessment by KPMG, commissioned by the Queensland Government, has indicated that the Games will deliver a total benefit of A$8.1bn (£4.44bn/€5.16bn/$6.29bn) for Queensland, and A$17.61bn for Australia.

The report also found that the Games would create 91,600 full time equivalent job years for Queensland and 122,900 nationally. Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said: “As we emerge from the economic setbacks of the COVID period, this is exactly the panacea Queensland and Australia needs. Economically, socially and for the health and wellbeing of the state and beyond.”

The Brisbane 2032 bid has been driven by Coates, who is also an IOC vice-president and a key figure in the Olympic Movement having overseen Tokyo’s preparations and the revamp of the Games bidding process.

Coates’ status has led to accusations of a conflict of interest, but he recused himself from the decision-making process during yesterday’s (Thursday’s) Executive Board meeting (pictured) and previous EB considerations of the Brisbane proposition.

In the wake of the IOC announcement, Coates was keen to maintain that Brisbane 2032 securing the necessary number of votes at next month’s IOC Session is still not a certainty. “I’ve been around long enough to know not to predict how my IOC colleagues will vote,” he said. “Even with one candidate, you still have to vote and the majority of members still have to say yes. They haven’t said goodbye to other (potential) candidates.”

When asked how Brisbane may not secure the necessary votes, Coates said some IOC members may decide “it’s too soon”. He added: “Or some will want to be satisfied when we outline that we’ve got athletes living in three villages, not the usual concept of one.

“This is now permitted, but I’ve seen some from the athletes’ commission saying the great thing about the Olympic Games is we get all athletes from all the sports together. Well, they’re not going to be, and I’m sure a question will come.”

Image: IOC/Greg Martin