Australia’s Queensland 2032 Olympic Bid To Face Opposition And Anti-Games Billboard Campaign

Australia’s 2032 Olympic bid from Queensland is set to face political opposition from the right-leaning One Nation Party (ONP) beginning with a billboard campaign this weekend.

Pauline Hanson of Australia's One Nation Party launched billboard campaign opposing Queensland 2032 Olympic bid
Pauline Hanson of Australia’s One Nation Party launches billboard campaign opposing Queensland 2032 Olympic bid

Led by Senator Pauline Hanson, the ONP will fund and deliver 52 orange billboards across the state of Queensland with Hanson’s image and the message “2032 Brisbane Olympics, regional Queensland says NO”.

Hanson has threatened to cancel the bid if her party is successful at an upcoming election.

The Senator said Friday on local television “it is estimated to cost about (AUD) $8.9 billion to hold the Olympics. This has always blown out.”

“Can we afford it? No, we can’t.

“We can’t afford it because we can’t even afford water for Queensland.”

Recent Olympics, including Rio 2016 and the Games planned for Tokyo this summer, have experienced significant cost overruns due mostly to increased construction costs.  New IOC rules implemented last year encourage bids to use existing facilities, where they lay, even if they are across the country or international borders.

Los Angeles has planned a no-build Games for 2028.

Hanson’s political opponent Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been the face of the Olympic bid and led a delegation that traveled to Lausanne, Switzerland last year to meet with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison also supports plans to bring the Olympics back to his nation for the third time – the first since Sydney hosted in 2000.  The Prime Minister committed AUD $10 million (USD $6.9 million) towards the bid.

Mayors across South-east Queensland funded a feasibility study last year that revealed the potential economic benefits of the project that utilizes mostly existing venues but relies on planned transportation upgrades across the state.  Studies show tourism benefits from the Games could bring as much a AUD $10 billion to the region.

On Friday Queensland’s Council of Mayors responded to Hanson’s claims in a statement “Self-serving political commentary does nothing to support or advance the interests of Queensland.”

To date, the bid has received very little opposition.  A poll last April showed that only 27 percent who responded oppose an Olympic bid.

The IOC, who will provide a minimum USD $1.8 million cash and in kind services to the host of the 2032 Games, said last year that bids representing regions showing opposition to the project might be asked to hold public referendums.  For the recent 2024 Summer Games bid, Hamburg narrowly lost a referendum forcing the German city to drop out of the race.  In 2018 a strong 2026 Winter Games bid from Calgary in Canada was defeated in a public plebiscite before it withdrew from competition.

Since 2013, nine straight public votes have been lost, spelling the end to Olympic bids.

“Everyone that I’ve spoken to in rural and regional areas don’t want it,” Hanson said on Today, suggesting that those outside of South-east Queensland, where Brisbane is capital, lose out on the deal.

“We’re in dire straits in Queensland – the state government is in a $90 billion debt, we have townships running out of water.

“We can’t provide decent health care, and (Queensland has a) lack of teachers in rural and regional areas. The roads are absolutely atrocious.”

In a published statement Hanson said “I have written to Scott Morrison and told him to abandon this ill-conceived idea and I commit to the people of Queensland that if One Nation has any say after the next state election, we will pull the Olympics bid ourselves.”

Queensland state elections are scheduled for October 31.

Queensland officials filed the bid with the IOC last month and have planned an aggressive campaign that would put the complete file in the hands of the Future Bid Commission by July.  Targeted discussions are expected to follow, running until December.  Though there is no fixed schedule it is believed the Games could be awarded as early as 2021 or 2022.

Australia’s hurry-up approach is aimed at taking advantage of the perceived lead that the bid currently enjoys – before other projects can catch up.

Other international bids are slowly forming but are not nearly as organized or compelling as Queensland’s.  The state could face competition on the international stage with bids by Jakarta in Indonesia, Shanghai in China, Madrid in Spain, Germany, India, and jointly between North and South Korea.

After Tokyo, the next Games are scheduled for Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.

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