Brisbane named preferred 2032 Olympic Games host

Australia is officially in the box seat to secure the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed it would enter into exclusive discussions with organisers of a “very advanced” south-east Queensland bid.

IOC president Thomas Bach said the body’s executive had accepted the recommendation of its Future Hosts Commission to install Brisbane as a non-binding preferred candidate. Bach stressed it was not a final decision and the matter had been the subject of “intensive debate” before being finalised.

The move means the IOC will now engage in detailed and targeted discussions with Brisbane organisers and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) over coming months. If all the conditions are met, Australia will in just over a decade be hosting its third Olympics, with a final call to be made as early as July ahead of Tokyo 2021.

It’s a momentous development for Australian sport, while the speed at which Brisbane’s bid has progressed has surprised many not privy to the background machinations. However, the Future Host Commission made it clear Australia was seen as a very safe pair of hands amid global uncertainty and had offered lofty praise for the detail of the Queensland presentation.

Future Host Commission chair Kristin Kloster Aasen said the move did not mean Brisbane was a “done deal” but, if discussions continued to advance, it would be recommended to the IOC that it be installed as the official host of the 2032 Games. It would take a disastrous turn of events for Brisbane to lose out.

“It’s a very advanced project that sits really well with us. It has an excellent master plan. It bears the signs of a project that has been moulded for a number of years with high-level support of government. Good legacy plan, good venue plan ... there are many, many things that made us want to put this forward,” Aasen said.

AOC president John Coates was already in Brisbane when the announcement was made. He told morning radio that the Games would have an operating cost of AU$4.5b and would break even after IOC funding (AU$2.5b) sponsorships (AU$1b) and ticketing (AU$1b).

“These Games break even and that’s with a fair contingency,” Coates told 2GB.

“The IOC wants you to use existing and temporary venues. We have 90 per cent in that category and 10 per cent planned.”

Brisbane spent less than AU$10m on its feasibility studies and presentation to the IOC, making it among the cheapest bidders in history. Coates said it would be a massive boost for sport around the nation.

“It’s a wonderful stimulus for sport, all the kids can dream of being an Olympian in ’32.”

Bach defended suggestions that his close ally Coates had any influence on the decision, given Coates chaired the group that made changes to the bidding process in 2019.

He said Coates had zero input into the decision and wasn’t part of the executive decision to green light the Host Commission’s recommendation.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she would “ensure that we get the funding to make this a reality”.

She said the state already had 85 per cent of venues needed for the Games.

“We don’t have to build huge stadiums that are not going to be used in the future and this gives us hope and opportunity as we go through our economic recovery and plan for the future.

“We can actually give hope to our young students right across the nation that they could compete in an Olympics here in Queensland in 2032.”

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the chance to host the 2032 Olympic Games is the “best opportunity that our city, our region and our state has had in generations”.

The 2032 contest was expected to include Doha, Qatar – which is hosting the 2030 Asian Games – and Budapest, Hungary, which withdrew late from the 2024 contest to pave the way for Los Angeles being offered the 2028 edition.

Hungary’s Olympic body said last month it set up a feasibility study for a 2032 bid to report back next year. China, Germany, India, Indonesia and Russia were also working on possible bids for 2032.