Australia has taken a considerable step towards hosting a third Olympics after Brisbane was named as the IOC’s “preferred partner” to begin talks over hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032.
The IOC’s executive board met on Wednesday when it approved a recommendation from the newly formed commission in charge of future hosts to proceed a “targeted dialogue” with south-east Queensland bid officials.
Under the IOC’s revamped selection process, it is seen as the first major step towards the bid being rubber stamped as Brisbane seeks to follow in the footsteps of Melbourne and Sydney in becoming an Olympic host city.
The IOC president, Thomas Bach, said on Wednesday that the IOC’s executive board had unanimously approved the recommendation of the bid, which has the support of the federal and state governments.
The Australian Olympic Committee president, John Coates, said there was still a lot of work to be undertaken as the candidature process continues.
“This is an important next step in an ongoing dialogue with the Future Host Commission,” Coates said. “We are very clear that we must continue to work hard in outlining our vision for a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032.”
Several cities and countries had expressed an interest in the 2032 Games, including Brisbane, Indonesia, Budapest, China, Doha and Germany’s Ruhr valley, among others.
The Australian Sports Commission chair, Josephine Sukkar, said a successful bid would be “a beautiful beacon on the hill for all Australians to look towards”.
“For the young boys and girls now enjoying their sport and dreaming of representing their country, this is an announcement that makes the possibility of a home Games more accessible and real,” Sukkar said. “A home Games would be a driver for increased sport participation too.”
The process of selecting a host city – previously a drawn-out and costly exercise, often open to accusations of unfairness – has undergone reform and a more streamlined approach is being used for the 2032 Games.
The changes approved in 2019 allow for, according to the IOC, “increased flexibility and cooperation on a bilateral level”.
Interested parties are now not necessarily limited to a single city but can refer to multiple cities, a region or a country, while strict deadlines for previous bids have been waived.
Instead of putting themselves in direct competition with each other, with the winner being announced seven years before the games, bidders now enter into a “permanent, ongoing dialogue” with the IOC, in an effort to vet bids and avoid unnecessary expenditure.
Under the system it is hoped that continued, non-committal conversations between the IOC and any prospective host will develop and improve the bidder’s chances of being selected, while also encouraging future bids if not initially successful.
The Gold Coast hosted the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the majority of infrastructure already exists; the state government claims that 80% of venues for the games are already built, although a main athletics stadium is likely to have to be built from scratch, or potentially housed in an upgraded QEII Stadium in Brisbane.
Australia is already preparing to host two major international sporting events over the next few years – the 2022 Fiba Women’s World Cup and the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup.
“These all present wonderful opportunities for Australian sport to thrive over the next decade and beyond,” said Sport Australia’s chief executive, Rob Dalton.
“Things have been tough but we’ve said all along that sport will play a prominent role in lifting the nation’s energy and spirits again, and there are few events that can match the inspiration of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
The bid, which the state premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said “could be the greatest thing that ever happened in Queensland”, was sidelined last year when the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.