AOC chief encourages Australia’s 2032 Olympics bid to cover “all of Queensland”

Australia’s potential bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games should include venues across the entirety of Queensland, according to Matt Carroll, chief executive of the Australian Olympic Committee.

The proposed bid began life as project focused on the state capital, Brisbane, before expanding to cover multiple centres in South East Queensland, including the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, which hosted last year’s Commonwealth Games.

Speaking exclusively to SportBusiness at the SportAccord Convention on the Gold Coast, Carroll said that the bid should be being discussed as a state-wide enterprise, with the northern cities of Cairns and Townsville also hosting events.

“The Queensland Premier [Annastacia Palaszczuk] should be talking about a Queensland bid,” said Carroll. “For the Queensland Premier not to talk about the whole state wouldn’t be right, because the north Queenslanders up around Cairns and Townsville very much want to be part of it, and it would add to the constituency too.”

Cairns, in the far north of the state, is over 1,000 miles from the Gold Coast in the far south. While the bid would likely remain centred on the South East Queensland region, Carroll suggested that the northern cities could host “football matches, basketball games, and things like that”, and should be included in the discussions even at this early stage.

“It’s important to note that it’s not even a full bid yet,” he added. “The South East Queensland mayors and the Queensland Premier haven’t decided to go forward with the bid, but there’s been a lot of encouraging signs from the feasibility study. 

“The mayors have gone about it in the right way, doing the feasibility study first instead of announcing ‘we’re going to bid’ and then doing the research.  A whole lot of work has gone into showing how it could happen, how it will work, and that it isn’t going to cost billions of dollars in new venues and would be of economic benefit to the region.

“Certainly for companies in Queensland, businesses in Queensland, they can see the benefit, and it will kickstart some of the infrastructural development sooner.”

Expanding the bid would present the opportunity to provide an infrastructural legacy to the entire state and spread the economic benefits across a wider area, said Carroll. The IOC’s “New Norm” reforms for the bidding process, which encourage more cost-effective and flexible Games planning, would also favour this kind of bid, he added.

On a visit to Brisbane over the weekend, IOC president Thomas Bach said he was “impressed” with the bid plans, particularly the advanced nature of the feasibility studies with over six years to go until the IOC makes its decision in 2025. 

“I must say that we have been impressed to see how detailed the feasibility studies are already at this early stage and how well founded these studies are,” said Bach. “Now it is up to the Australians to make their minds up, and to say whether they want to follow up on this project to host the Olympic Games.”

Recent polls have suggested that the Queensland public would be in favour of a bid, with 45 per cent of those polled in favour, against only 27 per cent opposed. 

Any Australian bid would be among the favourites to host the 2032 Olympics, which are widely expected to go to the Asia-Pacific region after Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. A joint bid from North and South Korea has been proposed, though the political challenges involved may limit its chances, while a similarly geographically sprawling bid from Germany, covering 13 cities in the Rhine-Ruhr region, is planned. It is unlikely that the IOC would award another Games to Western Europe just eight years after Paris, however.

Earlier this year, Jakarta, Indonesia became the first city to officially submit its candidature for 2032.