Brisbane Olympic venue plans ‘85% in place’
ALTHOUGH southeast Queensland may have officially suspended its 2032 Olympic bid for the duration of the fight against COVID-19, the Australian Olympic Committee has been focusing on venues in the Brisbane region and believes 85 per cent are already in place.
AOC president John Coates, speaking at the launch of the Parliamentary Friends of the Olympic Movement on Tuesday, said that during the temporary suspension of lobbying for the Games, the AOC had been focusing on its Olympic and Paralympic venue masterplan with the International Sports Federation and the International Paralympic Committee.
"Their co-operation and enthusiasm is overwhelmingly positive," Coates said.
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"These days the International Olympic Committee encourages, requires, the use of existing and temporary community and sports venues for which in the case of southeast Queensland - with Cairns and Townsville for football preliminaries - 85 per cent exist."
A southeast Queensland Games was initially seen as a way of fast-tracking the creation of infrastructure for a region that is home to one in seven Australians but it has since come to be viewed as a critical component of Australia's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
"There is already a need for jobs and growth in the Queensland economy arising from the impact of COVID-19," Coates said.
"Our partner three levels of government recognise a potential 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games as a critical part of the state and nation's economic recovery in the short term, quite apart from all of the long-term health, wellbeing, economic and sporting legacies."
Coates indicated that as soon as the federal and Queensland governments gave the AOC the go-ahead to proceed with the Olympic bid, it would resume and elevate dialogue with the IOC.
"A decision could be as early as 2022 or 2023."
He reiterated that the cost of hosting the Olympics in southeast Queensland was not as daunting as many imagined.
"For any of you who may be concerned about the $4.5bn cost of conducting the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the IOC has already committed $2.5bn at least, being the amount of its contributions to the 2028 Games in Los Angeles," he said.
The balance would be covered by sponsorships and ticket sales.
While the expectation is that there will be rival bids from countries such as Germany, Russia, China, India and Spain - with South and North Korea entertaining thoughts of a joint bid - any decision by the IOC within the next two to three years would be heavily influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as it has already forced the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics until July 2021.
The AOC chief executive, Matt Carroll, warned that as Australia emerged from the shadow of COVID-19, it still faced an obesity epidemic, with sport playing a vital role in helping to combat it.
"The AOC and our member sports represent the largest, most diverse and most inclusive sports network across the country, with more than eight million Australians participating in Olympic sports," Carroll said.