Virus-weary Australia cheer prospect of Brisbane Olympics in 2032

The IOC announcement does not mean Brisbane is guaranteed to get the Games, and there is said to be interest from other cities, but it is now the hot favourite. 

Agence France-Presse February 25, 2021 11:48:13 IST
Virus-weary Australia cheer prospect of Brisbane Olympics in 2032

File image of IOC president Thomas Bach. AP

Brisbane: Australians hailed Brisbane's newly minted status as frontrunner to host the 2032 Olympics on Thursday as a symbol of hope after a year of pandemic gloom.

Locals welcomed the news that the International Olympic Committee had given the sun-kissed city of two million people preferred bidder status, with no rivals currently in the hunt.

"It is an exciting day," said Prime Minister Scott Morrison, acknowledging "we've still got a long way to go."

The IOC announcement does not mean Brisbane is guaranteed to get the Games, and there is said to be interest from other cities, but it is now the hot favourite. 

"I think it is great for the economy and to put us on the world map," 25-year-old Gold Coast resident and public relations agent Eliza Elliott told AFP

Queensland state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said victory would help the region recover from the coronavirus pandemic, which has decimated the vital local tourist industry.

Overseas travellers have been mostly barred from entering largely Covid-free Australia for the last year.

"It would bring huge economic benefit and jobs as part of our economic recovery as we come out of COVID," she told ABC radio.

"Most importantly, it gives us hope, it gives us something to look forward to. 2032 may be out in the distance -- but (it's) that firm light at the end of the tunnel."

Sports-mad Australia have hosted the Olympics twice, in Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000.

Brisbane and the nearby Gold Coast already have extensive sporting infrastructure and Palaszczuk said the bid would be "practical and pragmatic", without the need to build stadiums that will go unused after the Games.

"We already have 85 percent of the venues at the moment - it's a new norm, which means it's a game-changer," she said.

Some local residents expressed concern the Games would add to pressure on transportation and other infrastructure in the fast-growing region.

Kristen Oxenford, 25, a professional netballer, said having an Olympics in the region would give a big boost to local sports.

"Having all the facilities in Queensland to be able to use for their training in the future will be a huge boost to our sporting industry," she said. 

Sport Australia chief executive Rob Dalton agreed, noting that sports participation rates among young people had taken a hit during the pandemic.

"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," he said.

"This would be a beautiful beacon on the hill for all Australians to look towards," added Australian Sports Commission chairwoman Josephine Sukkar.

Games organisers are trying out a new dialogue-based bid system for 2032 after cities shied away from the previous competitive process, wary of soaring costs and being lumbered with white elephant stadiums.

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