Wednesday’s shock announcement that Brisbane has been chosen as the ‘preferred candidate’ to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games caught some rival bids off stride. Others have vowed to continue to campaign to host the same Games on the rare chance that final negotiations between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials fall through.
IOC Future Host Commission Chair Kristin Kloster Aasen said that secret talks were held with the Brisbane bid during February and it was resolved that the time had come to seize the momentum and lock in Australia’s interest in hosting the Games. Under new IOC rules implemented in 2019, Future Host Commissions have the authority to single out candidates for targeted negotiations whenever they feel the timing is right – a stark contrast to the strictly scheduled and regimented ‘battle royale’ style bid contests of the past.
IOC President Thomas Bach insisted “it is not a decision against the other candidates, it is a decision in favour of a candidacy.”
But with the Games typically awarded seven years ahead of the opening ceremony, the IOC’s quietly executed decision 11 years in advance was not received well by other hopefuls.
Budapest began to organize its bid only last month, putting together an accomplished eight member committee to thoroughly examine the opportunity and build off an abandoned 2028 bid from Hungary’s capital.
“The main task is to create a comprehensive feasibility and macroeconomic impact assessment, a complex task that is estimated to take one and a half years,” Budapest 2032 President Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy said after the formation of the project in January.
The bid didn’t respond to GamesBids.com’s request for comment.
South Korean broadcaster KBS reported that the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) admitted the decision by the IOC to target Brisbane wasn’t good news for its planned joint bid between Seoul and Pyongyang in the North. But officials insist that the decision is not final and they will continue to work towards hosting the 2032 Games and fulfilling the promises made in 2018’s Inter-Korean agreement.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un launched the bid with the “Pyongyang Declaration” but the unified project, like diplomacy between the nations that are still technically at war, has since deteriorated.
German officials also criticized the IOC’s decision and were defensive of the proposed 2032 bid from Germany’s Rhine-Ruhr region
According to AP, Dagmar Freitag who is chair of the parliamentary sports commission of the Bundestag said she was not surprised by the announcement.
Rejecting the validity of the process, she said “the new selection system, praised by IOC president Thomas Bach as ‘more cost-effective and apolitical, and also preventing any unacceptable influence’ can hardly be surpassed in terms of non-transparency.”
North Rhine-Westphalia Prime Minister Armin Laschet vowed to keep pursuing the Games in 2032 despite the unsurmountable odds.
He said “there is no question that the IOC decision on Wednesday surprised us and also hit us. I was told that, for the IOC, Brisbane is a good candidate in uncertain times. I don’t share this view.”
Kloster Aasen told reporters Wednesday that German Olympic Committee (DOSB) officials decided in February that they would not join the ‘continuous dialogue’ stage of the bid process – a necessary prerequisite for the targeted stage now enjoyed by Brisbane.
German athletics federation chief Jurgen Kessing said the region will remain in the hunt for the Games, even if it’s not in 2032.
“I think we have to ask ourselves how we can get into pole position with possible future Olympic bids,” he said.
The Brisbane announcement has caused political bickering in India where officials had previously announced grandiose plans to bid for the 2032 Olympics as well as other major events such as the 2026 Youth Olympics and the Asian Games – all opportunities that have now slipped away.
Indian Olympic Association (IOA) treasurer Anandeshwar Pandey told the Tribune “I had read the announcements in newspapers that we will bid for games but till today we have not lodged a bid for any games.”
Pandey blamed IOA president Narendra Batra for his inaction leaving India unprepared for the early Olympic announcement.
“This matter will be raised in the executive committee,” he said.
“All members of the executive have the right to question as to why we never lodged any bid and if members want me to question then even I will do so.
“It was [Batra’s] responsibility to make all those claims a reality.”
“He had to take the EB and general body in confidence and then he had to talk to the government and then maybe led a delegation to IOC or OCA and bid for games. How and why he failed only he can answer but there was no result and because of it, IOA’s image has taken a hit. Had we done any work, it would have helped” Pandey said.
Proposed bids from Jakarta in Indonesia, Doha in Qatar, China, the Netherlands and other regions are among regions that have been involved in the IOC’s host selection process, and will still be in consideration
IOC officials have claimed the awarding of the 2032 Games is not yet a “done deal,” but the remaining steps including finalized plans, financial guarantees and the approval by both the Executive Board and the IOC Session are viewed as largely academic elements of the process.
Proposed bids from Jakarta in Indonesia, Doha in Qatar, China, the Netherlands and other regions are among those that have been involved in the IOC’s host selection process, and could still be considered for 2032 if discussions with Brisbane end, or for Games in 2036 or beyond.
Only a significant breakdown in discussions or a major pushback by Australians could trip up Brisbane’s bid, leaving the path open again for another region.
Final approval from IOC Members is expected late this year or early next year.
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.