Queensland could take a significant step towards hosting the 2032 Olympic Games this week when a recommendation for a preferred bid candidate is made to the International Olympic Committee.
The IOC’s executive board is set to meet on Wednesday night (AEDT), when it will hear a presentation from its newly formed Future Host Commission.
If, as expected, the commission recommends the south-east Queensland bid, more detailed negotiations can begin between the IOC and Australian officials with a view to being confirmed as the preferred host candidate at this year’s IOC session.
Under normal circumstances, that would take place just before the Tokyo Games, starting in July this year, but Covid-19 has clouded timings and there may be a delay to the scheduled meeting.
But given the IOC’s new bid process, once installed, the preferred host candidate would be in a strong position to win rights to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“Should the IOC announce as speculated it’s another step in the process – positive – but just another step,” a Queensland government spokesperson told Guardian Australia.
The Australian Olympic Committee said it would wait to hear of any overnight developments from the remote meeting before responding.
“We are aware that the IOC executive board will receive presentations from a number of commissions at its meeting tonight [Wednesday], including the Future Host Commission,” an AOC spokesperson said.
“We are not privy to that presentation but look forward to any advice in due course.”
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 new 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 IOC has heard from a number of prospective bid cities for 2032, but following an initial feasibility study submitted in early 2019 the south-east Queensland bid – comprising Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast – is believed to be strong.
The Gold Coast successfully 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 will likely have to be built from scratch, or potentially housed in an upgraded QE II Stadium in Brisbane.
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, but has since been resurrected.
Other cities and regions to have expressed an interest in hosting the 2032 Games include 2022 Fifa World Cup host Doha, Budapest, Germany’s Rhine-Ruhr region, Chengdu and Chongqing in China, Istanbul, New Delhi and Saint Petersburg.
A somewhat fanciful joint bid between North and South Korea had also been mooted.