An Australian Federal Member of Parliament has called for an end to the Southeast Queensland 2032 Olympic Games bid (SEQ 2032), describing the initiative as a “stupid idea.”
MP Bob Katter who represents the fringe right-wing Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) wants all work on Australia’s bid, the first since Sydney hosted the Games in 2000, to cease immediately during the global coronavirus pandemic.
“If it was a stupid idea to sink billions of dollars into a Brisbane Olympic Games before Covid-19, then it is infinitely more stupid now,” he told reporters Wednesday.
“It took regional Australia a decade to recover from the Global Financial Crisis and it will take the nation just as long to rebuild from the impacts of Coronavirus.
“Should we spend the next decade restarting a manufacturing sector, commencing nation building infrastructure and getting Australians back to work? Or should we spend the next ten years preparing for a two week sporting event?”
The Southeast Queensland bid was launched in December with multilevel government support including from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. The project has been well-received by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who have indicated that the bid is in a strong position among rivals including Jakarta, China, Germany and jointly between Seoul and Pyongyang.
Earlier this year SEQ 2032 received negative campaigning from the populist One Nation Party that erected 50 billboards across the state calling for the cancellation of the bid. The party, that has policies aligned with KAP, also launched an official petition against the Games that received 5032 votes before a March 30 deadline – short of the 10,000 required for the issue to be brought to Parliament.
A bid committee was formed with 16 members and many Olympians who have pitched a project that can bring thousands of jobs and AUD $7.4 billion (USD $4.9 billion) to the region for a Games that would use mostly existing venues. The Games were positioned to become a catalyst for the construction of much-needed transportation infrastructure, but earlier this week Premier Palaszczuk announced a AUD $400 million transport stimulus package aimed at COVID-19 recovery efforts.
The Premier and her delegation visited IOC officials in September in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The bid intended to deliver a full proposal to the IOC in July ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games, but amid the pandemic and the delay of those Games until 2021 – Olympic bidding has stalled.
IOC President Thomas Bach hinted last week that this isn’t the right time for an Olympic bid during the global crisis, as he referenced the early awarding of the 2028 edition to Los Angeles in 2017.
He said “otherwise we would now in this crisis time have to start the candidature procedure for the Games in 2028, and this, to say diplomatically would have not likely been the best moment to do this.”
Jakarta 2032 officials have already indicated that work might have to wait until December before bid activities resume.
There is no set date for the awarding of the 2032 Games but the SEQ 2032 bid has already entered discussions with the IOC Host City Commission for the Summer Games and members could recommend a preferred city to the Executive Board at any time.
In the meantime, Katter has urged officials to direct public spending elsewhere.
“If Madam Premier wants a gold medal for economic management then I’m more than happy to talk her through the benefits of a public works scheme, the likes of which saw America build itself out of the Great Depression” Katter said.
“The Olympic Games is the ultimate ‘absorb money’ project; North Queensland’s shovel ready projects will drive a profit for this state for decades to come.”