— Published 11 June 2021

Brisbane 2032, not yet designated but already victorious


Thomas Bach can rub his hands together: he will leave the IOC presidency in 2025, with the house in perfect working order. The Olympic body will no longer have to worry about running out of candidates to organise the Games. At least for the summer.

The German leader announced it on Thursday, June 10th, at the end of the last day of the Executive Board meeting: the city of Brisbane will be proposed to the 138th IOC Session, meeting on July 20th-21st in Tokyo, to host the Games in 2032. Brisbane alone. The deal is done, therefore, even if we will have to wait for the formal approval of the IOC members to write it down.

After Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028, the IOC will tick a new box. It will also serve as a reference by awarding an edition of the Games 11 years and a few weeks before the event.

Let’s be clear: the IOC Executive Board’s decision came as no surprise. Australia has always been in the lead.

The IOC recalled in a press release that the Queensland state capital was “undoubtedly well advanced in its preparations” as soon as January 2021, and “offered an opportunity to be seized at this most uncertain of times”.

A feasibility study conducted by the IOC at the time confirmed that Brisbane 2032 met all the criteria. On February 24th, the Executive Board announced its decision to start a focused dialogue with Brisbane and no one else. This decision was approved by the members of the body during the 137th session, held in March remotely.

From then on, other applicants realised that their illusions had been shattered. Certainly, the Germans of the Rhine-Ruhr project made themselves heard to denounce the process and its rules, which were obscure to say the least. The Koreans, in the run with a hypothetical bid from the South and the North, refused to give up, announcing that they were continuing their effort. Indonesia also assured that it would campaign during the Tokyo Games.

But the die was cast. The other candidates – Hungary, Qatar, India – gave up without daring to express their bitterness.

“It is now up to the IOC members to vote on July 21st,” Thomas Bach summed up during a press conference on Thursday, June 10th. Barring an earthquake, they will do so with wisdom and discipline. Brisbane will become the third Australian city to host the Games in 2032, after Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000.

In substance, the choice of Queensland is not really open to challenge. The Olympic project enjoys strong popular support, it has rallied all the political authorities, its concept is solid (84% existing and temporary sites), the climate is favourable and the atmosphere is assured.

As a bonus, a study conducted by Brisbane 2032 on the potential benefits of hosting the Games indicates that the event would bring in $6.1 billion to Queensland and $13.4 billion to Australia.

In terms of form, it seems less perfect. The new rules of the game, with a multi-stage dialogue with applicants, may have seemed unclear. The timetable for the selection process was never clearly defined. Above all, the designation of future host cities reform was led by John Coates, the first and most influential supporter of Brisbane and Queensland’s bid.

With the Games in 2032, the IOC had the opportunity to open up the map of Olympic venues to previously ignored countries such as Hungary, India and Indonesia. It preferred to stay on familiar ground. The choice of security, some would say. Proof of its conservatism, will argue others .

“The future of the Games is promising,” Thomas Bach suggested during a press conference on Thursday, June 10th. The IOC president also assured that dialogue would continue with a “pool of interested parties” to host the Olympic Games in 2036 or 2040. The deadlines seem far away. Too far, undoubtedly, for some of those disappointed with the 2032 edition.