Will Brisbane’s 2032 Olympic Games survive? Doubts rise amid controversial new plans

Olympic power brokers say reports of the demise of the 2032 Games in Brisbane have been greatly exaggerated.

But concerns about the prospects are hardly ‘fake news’, judging by the response to the Queensland government’s controversial plans.

A turbulent week for Prime Minister Steven Miles and his team began on Monday with a cabinet meeting to consider a 60-day overhaul of Brisbane’s infrastructure 2032.

The meeting also reportedly considered canceling the Games due to concerns over venue costs and declining public support.

Concerns about the Brisbane Games are hardly ‘fake news’, judging by the fallout from the Queensland government’s controversial plans for 2032

The state government was forced to deny a report claiming it had sought advice on pulling the plug, but the allegations did not go away and reached the ears of the International Olympic Committee.

IOC president Thomas Bach appeared bewildered when questioned about it.

“This is just speculation… this was some kind of fake news,” he said after a board meeting in Switzerland.

But the uproar caused by the host’s plan for the Games’ location is very real.

Mr Miles has been blamed for ignoring key findings of the independent review, specifically rejecting the idea of ​​building a $3.4 billion stadium at Victoria Park in central Brisbane as the centerpiece of the event.

But the Prime Minister appeared to receive the most flak for ignoring the review’s warnings and choosing the 49-year-old Queensland Sport and Athletics Center (QSAC) as the Olympic athletics venue.

Complaints about his plan had “reverberated across the state”, federal Sports Minister Anika Wells said.

“It’s a shame that it has come to this,” she told Nine’s Today Show.

Former world champion swimmer Cate Campbell led the chorus of disapproval.

The QSAC – a 1982 Commonwealth Games venue – now boasts a high-quality center for athletes preparing for this year’s Olympic Games in Paris and beyond.

Ms Campbell fears the upgrade will displace athletes who train there, disrupt their preparation and cost Australia Olympic medals.

“As soon as I hear athletes are concerned, I become concerned,” Ms. Wells said.

Then there are the costs.

The review said QSAC would need a $1.6 billion makeover, but added that it would be “very difficult to justify” and would not provide value for money as an old project.

Former world champion swimmer Cate Campbell (pictures) led the chorus of disapproval

Former world champion swimmer Cate Campbell (pictures) led the chorus of disapproval

Brisbane Mayor Adrian Schrinner has claimed up to $500 million in additional funding could be needed to resolve transport issues associated with the site, which is a 20-minute drive south of the city.

It will also be 20 kilometers from the Olympic village, guaranteeing ‘significant’ travel time for athletes, the review warned.

Conservationists are also in turmoil.

The assessment said “significant bushland” may need to be cleared if QSAC is renewed.

It has led to fears this would impact a koala habitat in the adjacent Toohey Forest.

Even when completed, the QSAC redevelopment could cause headaches.

The improved capacity of 40,000 seats would mean the smallest Olympic athletics stadium since the 1928 Games in Amsterdam and ‘potentially leave few opportunities for the general public to attend major finals’.

Adrian Schrinner: Additional resources may be needed to address transportation issues associated with the athletics venue. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

The government needs an ally and appears to have found one in the IOC.

So far, Olympic bosses are unimpressed by the smaller, sometimes decades-old venues that have been chosen.

‘Size doesn’t matter. What is really important is taking into account the legacy, the choice of the given community,” Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi said of Brisbane’s infrastructure plan.

Indeed, the government appears to be toeing the IOC line, despite its choices causing controversy.

Brisbane was chosen for 2032 based on the Olympic Games’ ‘new normal’ approach, aimed at avoiding the huge cost blowouts that have plagued previous editions.

Host cities are now encouraged to economise by reducing new infrastructure and using existing or temporary sites.

Under Mr Miles’ plan, the only new venue in 2032 will be the $2.5 billion Brisbane Arena – which will feature swimming – funded by the federal government.

“We will deliver the best Games ever, but we will do it in our exciting venues and the Brisbane Arena,” he says.

However, the Prime Minister has been accused of playing politics with his infrastructure plan in the run-up to October’s elections.

He claims he can’t justify paying $3.4 billion for a new stadium amid a cost-of-living crisis.

But Mr Schrinner says the Prime Minister will want to spend money in that ballpark with his upgrades anyway.

A revamp of the site and transportation will push QSAC’s price tag above $2 billion, he says.

A further $1 billion has been earmarked for improvements to the Gabba-Suncorp Stadium, ignoring the advice of the review, which itself cost $450,000 in taxpayers’ money.

An independent authority will be introduced mid-year to deliver the sites within their funding budget.

The state government will no doubt hope that by then the IOC will hear only good – and not ‘fake’ news.

“What’s going on now doesn’t look good for any of us,” Brisbane Games organizing committee chairman Andrew Liveris said of the venue controversy.