Paul Antonio, Toowoomba’s mayor and acting chair of the SEQ council of mayors, has declared Southeast Queensland’s proposed bid alive and well despite a lack of financial support from two of the area’s three largest councils.
Both the Gold Coast and Logan city councils in December declined to pay their part of the bill for a (AUD) $2.5 million feasibility study, which should be completed before a formal bid needs to be made in 2019.
On Tuesday, the Brisbane Times reports, Antonio denied the shortfall – believed to be around $600,000 – would be an issue, suggesting the private sector help make up the difference instead of the nine supporting SEP councils. Brisbane City Council has committed $870,000.
The mayor said there was immense private interest but it was also critical to have the support of both the state and federal governments to ensure a world-class bid.
Queensland’s labour government has stated its focus was on delivering the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said five months ago she did not think an SEQ Olympic bid was realistic “at this stage”. Meanwhile, Queenslanders are due to go to the polls by May 2018, but the state election is expected to be called this year.
Antonio admitted there would be bigger issues for voters, but the Olympics “deserved to be on the agenda” before a formal decision is required in early 2019. He told AAP, “it’s the sort of thing that people dream about – you dream about going to the Olympics – and it links in with our infrastructure needs. This could be a major impetus to building some of the infrastructure that is desperately needed”.
He added that potential benefits were also achievable in SEQ due to the region’s ability to reuse existing venues, such as Suncorp Stadium and facilities built for the Commonwealth Games.
A pre-feasibility study completed last year found it was possible for the region to host the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The full feasibility study will aim to determine whether a bid is practical.
Currently Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris are bidding to host the 2024 Games with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) set to elect a winner September 13, 2017 in Lima, Peru. Last month IOC President Thomas Bach vowed changes for the Olympic bid process after two cities, Hamburg and Rome, were forced out of the 2024 race due to a referendum and change in government.
Bach said that the current process created “too many losers,” and that the option of the 2024 and 2028 host cities both being chosen in Lima in September would be studied.
If the IOC stays with its current scheduling, applications for the 2028 Olympic Games would need to be made in 2019 with the final election taking place in 2021.
Australia has hosted two Olympic Games – Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000.