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Secrets behind our bid: The future belongs to those who plan for it


The journey to winning the right to host the 2032 Olympics began with a phone call, writes former Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk.

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The G20 World Leaders Summit had come and gone. The mayors of south-east Queensland started talking. What’s next, we asked.

We needed an event that was going to give a strong case for the building infrastructure.

Population growth was strong but the horizon for road and public transport infrastructure keeping up was not looking good.

As we had started to talk about a certain event I fielded a call from Wayne Smith from The Australian. Would Brisbane bid for a future Olympic Games, the question came.

No, I said, but if we could present a regional bid from south-east Queensland then the answer was yes.

Then on March 6, 2015 the mayors of south-east Queensland decided to explore a potential bid for 2028.

We wrote to the prime minister, the premier and the president of the Australian Olympic Committee to tell them of our intentions. Within a few weeks, John Coates had arranged a meeting with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson flew to Sydney for the meeting and I dialled in. We put our cards firmly on the table.

Following that conversation we engaged the best consultants we could find and swiftly moved to a pre-feasibility study.

Not every council was prepared to invest in it. Some stayed the course from day one right through to the end – Brisbane, Sunshine Coast , Redlands, Toowoomba, Ipswich and, to their great credit, the smaller councils of Somerset, Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim.

Logan and Moreton Bay came on board later in the process but the Gold Coast refused to contribute at any stage.

Despite this the mayors took the greater view that it needed to be a genuine regional bid so the non-financial contributors were included in the planning process.

In July, we met with Lord Sebastian Coe to talk about the legacy and experiences relating to the 2012 London Olympics. The big take away from that meeting was the employment growth.

The pre-feasibility was finished in 2017 just prior to the big announcement that Paris was getting 2024 and Los Angelos was awarded 2028.

This was a great sign that the International Olympic Movement were seriously genuine about reforming traditional practices.

So 2028 being gone, what do we do now?

Simple really – go for 2032. Besides, this would give all three levels of government more time to plan.

We immediately moved to a full feasibility study and at the same time got an agreement with the federal government to co-fund with the Council of Mayors (SEQ) a People Mass Movement Study.

This study would look at the infrastructure requirements of south-east Queensland relative to predicted population growth and was to be a critical piece of work to sit alongside the feasibility study. Both of these were publicly released in February and March of 2019.

The hard and detailed work placed us well ahead of any other prospective bid from around the world. This work positioned us to give us preferred status with the International Olympic Committee.

Ahead of the pack and with a compelling case and a first-ever regional bid.

This is the biggest show on earth and a destination maker. The opportunity for a new generation to dare to dream – to put the iPhones and iPads away for a while in a bid to go for gold on their home turf.

The legacy can be immense. As the saying goes though – the future belongs to those who plan for it.

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