Brisbane 2032 secures Olympic Games coronation

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has today (Wednesday) approved Brisbane as the home of the 2032 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, culminating a process that has stepped away from the traditional contests for the hosting rights.

Today’s vote at the IOC Session in Tokyo, held on the eve of the postponed 2020 Games, ensures Australia will host its third Olympic Games, following on from Sydney 2000 and Melbourne 1956. The vote saw 72 IOC members vote in favour of the proposition, with five against and three abstentions.

IOC president Thomas Bach said: “We encourage Olympic Games projects which are sustainable and economically responsible, which deliver the best possible Games experience for athletes and fans, and which leave solid legacies for local communities.

“The Brisbane 2032 vision and Games plan fit into long-term regional and national strategies for social and economic development in Queensland and Australia, and complement the goals for the Olympic Movement outlined in Olympic Agenda 2020 and 2020+5, while focusing on providing memorable sports experiences for athletes and fans.

“Today’s vote is a vote of trust that Brisbane and Queensland will stage magnificent Olympic and Paralympic Games 2032. We have heard a lot of positive feedback from IOC Members and International Federations in the past few months.”

Brisbane was effectively setup as the 2032 Games host last month following a decision from the IOC Executive Board (EB). The IOC in February confirmed Brisbane as its preferred candidate to host the 2032 Games, with the city commended for its venue masterplan. 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 last month 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 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 Brisbane 2032 bid has been driven by Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) president John 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 last month’s Executive Board meeting and previous EB considerations of the Brisbane proposition.

Speaking today, Coates said: “This is a very proud day for Australia, make no mistake. I thank the IOC members for their confidence. Brisbane 2032 is genuinely committed to serving the ideals of the Olympic Movement.

“The Olympic Games in Brisbane will be in the most diligent, grateful and enthusiastic hands. And I make this commitment to the athletes of the world – we will provide you with an unforgettable experience.

“Australia will welcome the world in 2032. South-East Queensland is Australia’s fasting growing region, offering a friendly and culturally diverse people with a passion for sport, first class sporting facilities, excellent transport and a commitment to put the world’s athletes at the centre of everything we do.

“Queensland’s climate, iconic beaches and environmental attractions makes our offering irresistible for athletes, families, friends and sports lovers.”

Coates indicated the key to Brisbane’s ambition was ensuring the Games held in Queensland would deliver on the IOC’s Agenda 2020 + 5 approach, the revised version of the original Agenda 2020 initiative driven by Bach to instigate reform in the Olympic Movement.

Coates added: “Australians like to have a go. Six years ago, the Mayors of South-East Queensland did just that when they undertook a feasibility study into what the Games could mean for their region. With the support of the Queensland and Federal Governments that ‘have a go’ moment has become an ambition realised.

“Of course, the starter’s gun has only just been fired and the real work now begins. In terms of the operational costs of running the Games themselves, the A$4.941bn (£2.65bn/€3.07bn/$3.62bn) it will cost to put this event on will be offset by a contribution from the IOC plus sponsorship and ticket sales. The Games will be cost neutral from an operational perspective.

“We know from the independent financial analyses that a benefit of A$8.1bn for Queensland and A$17.61bn for Australia is projected. We have talked about the Games becoming a catalyst for much needed infrastructure and the jobs and tourism that will flow to all of Queensland and beyond.”

Following Tokyo 2020, the next editions of the Summer Olympic Games are now due to be held in Paris (2024), Los Angeles (2028) and Brisbane.

Image: IOC/Greg Martin