Virus-weary Australia hails prospect of Brisbane Olympics

·2-min read
The Olympic Rings are seen outside the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland

Australians will see the prospect of Brisbane hosting the Olympics in 2032 as a symbol of hope as the country emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, Queensland state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Thursday.

Palaszczuk welcomed as "wonderful news" an International Olympic Committee announcement that Brisbane was the preferred candidate to host the 2032 Games.

"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."

While the IOC announcement does not confirm Brisbane as host, it means Games chiefs will hold "targeted dialogue" with the city's bid organisers while noting interest from other parties.

Brisbane's Games tilt has also been backed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Australian Olympic Committee.

"This is an important next step in an ongoing dialogue with the Future Host Commission," AOC president John Coates said.

"We are very clear that we must continue to work hard in outlining our vision for a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032."

Sports-mad Australia has 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.

Sport Australia chief executive Rob Dalton said the dream of participating in a home Olympics would boost participation rates among young people that have taken a hit because of 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.

Australian Sports Commission chairwoman Josephine Sukkar echoed the sentiment.

"This would be a beautiful beacon on the hill for all Australians to look towards," she said.

Games organisers are trialling 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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