Heavy weather threatens the Brisbane 2032 Games. With just under ten years to go, the fine political balance displayed during the bidding phase already seems to be showing some cracks.
The mayor of Gold Coast, Tom Tate, has thrown a spanner in the works by suggesting in the Australian media that the centre of gravity should be moved from Brisbane to his own city. According to the Queensland politician, the change would significantly reduce the cost of the Games. And, by domino effect, the potential impact of the event on taxpayers.
Tom Tate points to the ambitious project to rebuild the legendary Gabba, Brisbane’s cricket stadium, which will host the 2032 Games ceremonies – opening and closing – and athletics competitions. The deal was initially estimated at A$1 billion (€640 million at current prices). But the bill would now be more than double that.
“Look at the Gabba. They want to spend $2.5 billion to add an extra 8,000 seats,” said the mayor of Gold Coast, quoted in the Daily Mail. It just doesn’t make sense when at the same time you can’t even provide people with affordable housing. They should just renovate it, because it’s taxpayers’ money and times are tough right now. So this is not the time to rebuild. If you burn money on all sides, people will look at you with disdain.
Tom Tate’s message is clear: there’s no need to throw money at sports facilities, you might as well use existing ones. The refrain is well known. It has become very tendency.
Having hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2018, Gold Coast has no shortage of competition venues. “We already have a lot of facilities, like Olympic pools, hockey and BMX courts, to name a few,” insists the mayor of Gold Coast. Let’s focus on the value for money and the legacy for the whole of the South East. After all, it all started with a South East Queensland bid.
In the current configuration, Gold Coast is to host just six sports on the 2032 Olympic Games programme: beach volleyball, judo, wrestling, open water swimming, triathlon and volleyball. An athletes’ village is also planned within its boundaries. In the original plan, before the IOC awarded the event, there was talk of the city hosting several others, including golf, handball and basketball.
Brisbane, the host city and epicentre of the project, now has the lion’s share, with nineteen sports on the programme.
Is Tom Tate’s proposal realistic? No doubt. Since the Commonwealth Games in 2018, Gold Coast has established itself as one of Australia’s, and indeed the world’s, sporting hotspots. In the latest ranking of the world’s most sporting cities, carried out by the BCW Sports agency, it occupies 26th place, a clear improvement on the two previous editions (46th in 2020, 35th in 2021). Only two Australian cities did better: Melbourne in 10th place and Sydney in 22nd place. Brisbane does not appear in the top 50.
According to Queensland government forecasts, the population of the Gold Coast is expected to increase by 51%, or 293,000 people, by the year 2036. This is more than twice the rate of population growth predicted for Brisbane. For the year 2022 alone, the local authorities have announced that they have supported around sixty major sporting events.
In 2019, a year after the Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast hosted SportAccord. The latest edition of the international convention.