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Deal or no Deal, Olympics boss says our Games bid's still in good position

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Australian Olympic boss John Coates says pandemic disruption and the delay of a long-awaited SEQ City Deal might allow for a strong finish for Queensland’s 2032 Olympic bid.

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Three levels of government this week confirmed the negotiation of an overdue South East Queensland City Deal, underpinning billions of dollars in future infrastructure, would not be finalised until 2021.

The move was met with criticism by stakeholders including the Committee for Brisbane and the Property Council, who had called for the deal to underpin an economic recovery package and now fear the region will be set back further as a result of the pandemic.

It also came after the Senate forced the Morrison Government to release its expert advice on such deals – already negotiated elsewhere – showing it was told in March 2019 to “make significant progress on well-defined issues that are critical to a region’s future”.

Coates told InQueensland today he was not surprised by the decision to delay the finalisation of a city deal, as all governments needed to focus on the pandemic. He did not expect it to disrupt south-east Queensland’s bid for the 2032 games.

He said meetings had continued with international organisations and Olympic officials, who understood the commitment from governments and the need for road and public transport upgrades, separate to the games itself.

A masterplan, identifying the venues and athletes’ villages, has also been refined, with only two more sports to pin down. The vision of a 2032 games is becoming clearer.

“We’ll reconvene the Olympic Candidature Leadership Group and present the masterplan to them when we think the time is right,” Coates said.

“We are still in what we call continuous dialogue with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) as are the other candidates.”

Coates said it was recently decided there would be two annual meetings or sessions of the IOC next year, one coinciding with the postponed Tokyo Games, however he did not expect the host of the 2032 games to be decided then.

“My guess is it could be as early as 2022, and of course we’ll be ready,” Coates said.

The decision to postpone the Tokyo games came at a potential cost to the host, however the IOC agreed to help mitigate the impact. That, and previous efficiency and sustainability reforms, could help Queensland.

“There will be other optimisations or modifications that will make it easier to run a Games, there’s no doubt about that, and take some of the costs out of it,” Coates said, noting that Olympic broadcast and sponsorship deals remained in place.

“It will be very positive for us and any other candidates.”

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