Olympic chief urges southeast to go for gold

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THE most powerful figure in the Olympic movement has urged southeast Queensland leaders to seize a unique opportunity to promote the region as a potential Games host.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach will meet Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and new Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner to discuss a possible bid for the 2032 Games when he attends the SportAccord conference on the Gold Coast early next month.

He will join the leaders of more than 100 international sporting federations and says it is the perfect chance to build on the success of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and start selling the region’s Olympic credentials to some of the most influential players in world sport.

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“It is because you can prepare the ground. You can benefit from the presence of the people. You know the saying ‘It’s better to see once than to hear 1000 times’. To see the region, to feel the enthusiasm of the people is something extremely valuable,” Mr Bach said in a rare interview.

media_cameraInternational Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach. Picture: Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP

“You can also benefit from the excellent reputation the Australian Olympic Committee has with John Coates in the IOC and the international federation so it is a great opportunity. I can only say seize it!”

An 18-month feasibility study, commissioned by the SEQ Council of Mayors, in February found a “compelling” case that the region could mount a bid to bring the 2032 event here at a lower cost to tax and ratepayers than last year’s Commonwealth Games.

The State Government has yet to decide if it will support a formal bid.

Mr Bach said it was important that all parties were united before a formal candidature was announced but welcomed the strong interest.

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“It’s at a very early stage but we’re very much positively surprised that already now, 13 years before the Games in ’32, we are seeing interest and discussions.”

And Mr Bach said southeast Queensland and Australia were in a “special’’ position with some clear advantages and an “excellent’’ impression among the international sports community.

“The Commonwealth Games was considered to be a great success by everybody. I’ve met many people after the Commonwealth Games and most of them unsolicited were praising the organisation and – even more – the atmosphere.

“You know many people are enthusiastic up to today about the 2000 Sydney Games.

“The love of sport of the Australians, their enthusiasm, their hospitality. All this plays a great role in these discussions even if it is early days.

“It is very positive because Australia, the Australians are very popular people and we all like their openness, their informality, their hospitality and, most of all, their love for sport.

“This, combined with their great organisational skills, makes a very positive feeling around the Aussies in the international sports movement.”

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By 2032, it would be more than 30 years since an Olympics was held in Oceania.

“So I think it’s another good reason to think about it,” Mr Bach said.

It is unlikely that a preliminary economic benefit analysis will be ready in time for Mr Bach’s meeting with the Premier and Lord Mayor, but he said the feasibility report was positive.

That study forecast a $900 million net loss but Mr Bach is adamant that wherever the 2032 event is staged, it will at least break even, if not make money.

The feasibility report estimated IOC revenue at $1.7 billion, but Mr Bach says it is likely to be between $2.5 billion and $2.7 billion.

And new rules under the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms place a strict emphasis on using existing facilities or those where a long-term need beyond the Games has already been established to slash the construction bills which plagued past events.

“We say clearly to all candidates – first use existing facilities. Second, if this is not possible, look into a temporary facility. If this for whatever reason makes no sense, then look into building something but only if you have a clear legacy plan.

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“If neither of the three (options) is working, then we are ready to look into a solution outside the host city or region to accommodate these sports.”

About 90 per cent of venues for the Paris (2024) and Los Angeles (2028) Games already existed and the bids for the 2026 Winter Olympics were 75 per cent lower than the 2022 event which was planned under the old rules.

Mr Bach said the approach proposed by the SEQ Council of Mayors to use an Olympic bid to accelerate billions of dollars of public transport, roads and community facilities infrastructure need to support the fast-growing population also “fits perfectly’’ with the IOC’s new ethos.

“We’ve turned the page. Before, the host city had to adapt to the Games. What we are saying now is that the Games have to adapt to the city and the region and add to it and its long-term development plan. We have to contribute to it.

“It fits perfectly because the Games would not be the reason why transport and other infrastructure was developed but they would serve as a catalyst so the population could enjoy the advantages way earlier than without the Games.”

Originally published as Olympic chief urges southeast to go for gold



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