Former Olympic gold medallist Susie O'Neill with junior swim squad members Georgia Cooke, 7, and Arthur Joseph, 5, at Yeronga Park Swimming Pool. Picture by Luke Marsden.
Former Olympic gold medallist Susie O'Neill with junior swim squad members Georgia Cooke, 7, and Arthur Joseph, 5, at Yeronga Park Swimming Pool. Picture by Luke Marsden.

Public support swells for Queensland Olympics

TWO thirds of Queenslanders say we should go for gold with a bid to host the 2032 Olympic Games, an exclusive survey reveals

The YouGov Galaxy survey found overall support across the state for a bid for the 2032 Games has leapt to 65 per cent - up from 56 per cent in October. Opposition has fallen from 34 per cent to just 25 per cent, with 10 per cent remaining uncommitted.

The appetite to bring the world's biggest sporting spectacle to the Sunshine State has jumped among all age groups. Nearly eight in 10 millennials are backing a bid, more than two-thirds of Generation X and over half of Baby Boomers.

Former Olympic gold medallist Susie O'Neill with junior swim squad members Georgia Cooke, 7, and Arthur Joseph, 5, at Yeronga Park Swimming Pool. Picture by Luke Marsden.
Former Olympic gold medallist Susie O'Neill with junior swim squad members Georgia Cooke, 7, and Arthur Joseph, 5, at Yeronga Park Swimming Pool. Picture by Luke Marsden.

"That's a significant increase in a relatively short time," Brisbane Lord Mayor and SEQ Council of Mayors chairman Adrian Schrinner said. "It's really looking exciting and it's good to see the

community is getting excited as well."

The surging support comes as the mayors confirm that if a successful bid were made, the event would be officially known as the Brisbane 2032 Games, but events would be staged right across the southeast as well as in Cairns and Townsville.

And the International Olympic Committee will be asked to approve changes next month which would allow regions to bid, paving the way for SEQ to be the first to take advantage.

A working group chaired by Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates this week presented a package of recommended reforms to the IOC executive board which also include greater flexibility over the time frame for awarding games.

Annastacia Palaszczuk Premier with IOC President Thomas Bach and Australian Olympic chief John Coates
Annastacia Palaszczuk Premier with IOC President Thomas Bach and Australian Olympic chief John Coates

Traditionally, winning bids are announced seven years ahead of the event. But the 2024 Paris

Games and 2028 Los Angeles Games were awarded together in 2017.

And under the reforms proposed by Mr Coates' group, double awards could happen again - or the announcement of host cities could be delayed to give bidders more time to prepare.

It is all part of the IOC's new philosophy that Olympics have to adapt to the needs of host locations, rather than expecting cities to adapt.

Cr Schrinner said IOC president Thomas Bach's pledge earlier this month that the 2032 Games would be cost-neutral was a real boost.

The State Government has yet to decide on supporting a bid, but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday said her recent meeting with Dr Bach was "very productive".

"The IOC has said that after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics it will invest in future bids. I will be seeking more detailed information from the IOC about the nature of that investment, and Mr Coates will be back in Queensland next month for further discussions. The financial implications of any bid would need to be considered very carefully before any taxpayer funds were committed."

Cr Schrinner said there was a growing public awareness that an Olympic bid could be the catalyst for delivering tens of billions of dollars of transport infrastructure that would be required in the region anyway, with the population expected to rise almost 60 per cent to 3.5 million in the next quarter-century.

 

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said IOC president Thomas Bach’s pledge earlier this month that the 2032 Games would be cost-neutral was a real boost.
Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said IOC president Thomas Bach’s pledge earlier this month that the 2032 Games would be cost-neutral was a real boost.

"An Olympics would set a clear deadline when everything has to be done. It focuses the minds of all three levels of government."

The SEQ Council of Mayors has proposed a regional rapid rail network that would enable passengers to travel between the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast or Toowoomba and Brisbane in 45 minutes or less.

An Australian Olympic Committee spokesman said: "Obviously, the question of a commitment to transport infrastructure remains critical to any bid proceeding."

The return of the Morrison Government has also provided a lift. The Coalition committed $10 million during the election campaign towards putting an Olympic bid together. It has also promised to set up a National Faster Rail Agency from July to identify and develop corridors between cities and key regional centres.

And just before the election campaign, Prime Minister Scott Morrison agreed to a City Deal agreement with the State Government and SEQ Mayors to set and fund priority infrastructure and economic development projects for the next 25 years.

Federal LNP MP for the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax Ted O'Brien - a strong advocate for a City Deal and faster rail - said the stars could align with an Olympic bid to deliver a dream outcome for southeast Queensland. He said the survey results were good news.

 

"It speaks to the optimism Queenslanders have about the future of the state," he said. "SEQ is

absolutely ready to be centrestage for the world."

A City Deal, rapid rail network and Olympic bid were the top three points of an action plan developed from The Courier-Mail's FutureSEQ campaign late last year.

State Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said: "I back the Olympic Games because I want Queensland to be bold again. We should be building new transport infrastructure to bust congestion with or without the Games."

Queensland swim legend Susie O'Neill, who competed at the Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney Olympics, said she was pleasantly surprised by the support.

"It would be amazing for the region. People still talk about Sydney and the support there. I reckon we would smash it up here."

For athletes currently in their pre-teens or early teens, the prospect of competing at an Olympics in their own country would be incredibly inspiring, she said.

"I remember the spur it gave me," said O'Neill, who this month was appointed a deputy chef de mission to the Australian team for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

AOC President John Coates is a keynote speaker at a lunch at the Howard Smith Wharves on June 13 as part of The Courier-Mail's Future Tourism series.


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