BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — There was no fanfare. No iconic announcement.
An Australian push to host the 2032 Olympics was elevated overnight to the status of preferred bid, and the people of Brisbane and southeast Queensland state woke up to the news on Thursday morning.
It’s not a done deal yet, but powerful Olympic official John Coates is vowing to get it across the finish line when the IOC makes the final call, which could be within 12 months.
“It was a long night . . . but a very mature decision from the IOC. To take a decision when you’ve still got a few other cities there and say ‘well, we’re going to go into targeted dialogue with one preferred city’ was a big call by them,” Coates said Thursday. “The IOC now deal exclusively with us while we complete the questionnaire. The other cities who have shown interest have been parked . . . it’s significant recognition.”
I OC president Thomas Bach told a news conference in Switzerland on Wednesday that an IOC panel overseeing the bid process would begin “targeted dialogue” with Australian organizers.
The 2032 contest was expected to include Doha, Qatar, and Budapest, Hungary, which withdrew late from the 2024 contest to pave the way for Los Angeles being offered the 2028 Olympics. China, Germany, India, Indonesia and Russia were also working on possible bids for 2032.
Coates is a long-serving president of the Australian Olympic Committee, a vice president of the International Olympic Committee, the head of the coordination commission which assesses preparation for the Tokyo Games and an architect of the new process the IOC uses to select host cities.
He was heavily involved in Australia's successful bid and running of the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Melbourne hosted the 1956 Olympics and Coates has said for several years that Brisbane, Australia's third-biggest city, would be next in line among the country's contenders.
He said the IOC has reviewed plans and various feasibility studies and now the “federal government has to provide its undertakings in terms of security, things that’s done for any international event that comes here, border control, all of those things. So there’s work to be done in that area.”
The government leader of Queensland state, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the decision puts Queensland “in the box seat" and she was confident that the federal, state and municipal governments were “absolutely united in working together to make this happen."
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison supported the bid during a meeting in Japan last year with IOC president Thomas Bach, and Palaszczuk had meetings with the IOC in Switzerland.
Palaszczuk said Brisbane and surrounding cities to the north, south and west already had 85% of the venues required for the games and that was the “gamechanger" as the IOC seeks to cut the costs of hosting the games.
“We don’t have to build huge stadiums that are not going to be used in the future, and this gives hope and opportunity as we got through our economic recovery and plan for the future," she said.
Organizers could either build a new, 50,000-seat main stadium for the opening ceremony and track and field competition, or upgrade one of the region's existing stadiums. The other main construction would be a 15,000-seat aquatic center, although there's existing facilities in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast that could be upgraded.
Brisbane hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1982, the World Expo in 1988, the G20 Summit in 2014 and the Gold Coast hosted the 2018 Commonwealth Games, using facilities across the region.
A conference of mayors spanning from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland's southeast corner has been working for six years on planning the bid. It has a proposed budget of $4.5 billion but organizers say the cost to taxpayers would be minimized by the IOC’s contribution plus sponsorship and ticketing revenue.
“When we started this journey . . . many people were skeptical. Now we’re one step away from being named as the host of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games," Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said. “Today is not the time to get over-excited, there is still plenty of work to be done.”
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