Officials in Australia are quickly ramping up for a possible 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid in Queensland after the state’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk committed AUD $10 million (USD $7 million) towards a study that would assess the costs to taxpayers.
Palaszczuk Tuesday pledged the funds, matching a federal government contribution made earlier this year that will be used to launch a taskforce examining potential venues, transport infrastructure and the economic feasibility of hosting the biggest multi-sport event on the planet.
The Premier will also chair the group that is expected to report next year whether a bid will ultimately move forward on to the international stage.
“The rules have changed, in terms of we don’t need these mega-structures anymore,” Palaszczuk said.
“I need everyone to be working together. I need everyone on board, I don’t need people sniping at the sidelines.”
A group of Mayors in Southeast Queensland already commissioned a feasibility study on the project that revealed positive results earlier this year.
The 265-page report outlined a AUD $5.3 billion (USD $3.77 billion) plan to upgrade as many as 60 percent existing venues, add temporary seating where possible and build at least one new stadium. The plan, that would see a Games centered around state capital Brisbane, is contingent on the separate delivery of major transport projects that are needed to protect from future gridlock.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also provided strong support for a bid, leaving it up to the State to decide whether to pursue the project.
“We delivered a Commonwealth Games (in 2018) that got the world’s attention, that was inclusive of cities outside the Gold Coast such as Townsville and Cairns (in Queensland) and we delivered them on time and under budget,” Palaszczuk emphasized.
Last month the International Olympic Committee (IOC) retooled the entire Olympic bid process, resulting in the elimination of set timelines. Several cities had been targeting a scheduled 2025 election of the 2032 host city but the unanimous approval of the new process by IOC members instead became a starting gun for a race that could now culminate at any time.
The preceding two editions of the Summer Games were already awarded simultaneously in 2017 to Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. Next year the quadrennial event will be hosted in Tokyo.
Projects from India, Indonesia, China and jointly between North and South Korea had already formally launched for 2032 ahead of the new IOC rules and timelines, but Australia’s has received the most attention by the IOC.
Earlier this year Australian IOC Vice President John Coates, also the Australian Olympic Committee President who was the architect behind the newly approved bid process, hinted that the 2032 Games could be Australia’s for the taking – with an election possible as early as next year.
IOC President Thomas Bach later downplayed Coates’ remarks, suggesting that the timing for a 2020 election was too aggressive.
Today I’ve announced a crucial step in our journey towards deciding whether Qld will launch a bid for the 2032 Olympic & Paralympic Games.
— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) July 23, 2019
Bach, however, showered accolades on Australia’s bid while praising the Prime Minister’s support.
“I was impressed by the clear and strong level of commitment of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his government for Olympic Games in Queensland, Australia,” Bach said this month.
“He made it very clear that Olympic Games would fit 100 per cent into his government’s ten years infrastructure planning. This early commitment and the well-known enthusiasm of the Aussies for sport are a great foundation for the Olympic Games 2032 in Queensland.
Australia has hosted the Olympic Games twice, in Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000.
The Games model for Southeast Queensland fits with further IOC site selection changes that allow for a widespread venue footprint to encourage the use of existing venues – reducing costs and risks. But to accommodate travel across the region, major transportation upgrades are being proposed – something that officials say are part of a long-term development strategy.
Although planned, once these major infrastructure projects are put into a time box as a prerequisite for an Olympics, major cost over runs and other risks become typical. This was most evident recently in preparations for Rio 2016 and the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com 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.