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Let the (power) games begin: Rift between mayors knocks shine off 'day of destiny'

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A last minute hurdle has hit the Brisbane 2032 Olympic bid just hours after it was rubber-stamped and sent to the full International Olympic Committee vote in July to be confirmed as the host city.

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The IOC announced overnight that Brisbane’s proposal would be put to a final vote on July 21, with IOC President Thomas Bach describing the bid as “irresistible”.

“The Brisbane 2032 Olympic project shows how forward-thinking leaders recognise the power of sport as a way to achieve lasting legacies for their communities,” Bach said.

But the bid alliance that says it will deliver the 2032 Olympic Games for Brisbane and south-east Queensland has hit the wobbles, with the Gold Coast officially pulling out of the key Council of Mayors group over an Olympic-sized snub.

The IOC also released a new impact study into the bid, which estimated a Brisbane Olympics would generate $8.1 billion in economic and social benefits for Queensland and more than $17.6 in benefits for Australia.

Much of that would be from the jump in international tourism and trade that the Games would produce, according to the study compiled by KPMG.

The Gold Coast move will weaken the regional focus of the bid and undermine the much-touted south-east Queensland “collaboration” between Brisbane and regional cities in pitching for the Games. It also releases outspoken Mayor Tom Tate to operate outside the tent and gain a strategic edge to push for Gold Coast-centric deals in the lead up to the Olympics.

It is understood the “deal breaker” that triggered the rift and the Gold Coast’s shock exit from the Council of Mayors was Tate being left out of the influential Brisbane 2032 Organising Committee.

It is understood that Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner, in a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison as the chair of the Olympic Candidature Leadership Group, said not only was Schrinner appointing himself to lead the committee’s mayoral representation, but he would be nominating two other representatives.

That didn’t include Tate, with the Gold Coast mayor claiming he was not even copied in on the May 17 circular.

At a formal press conference today, Redlands Mayor Karen Williams joined Schrinner in representing local government. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the organising committee had yet to be decided.

“We will be making sure we get the best and brightest people on that board,” Palaszczuk said.

Asked to respond to Tate’s outburst, Schrinner said in a statement: “As far as we are aware there have been no decisions on the makeup of the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games”.

Tate’s dummy spit won the backing of Gold Coast councillors on Tuesday, with the city again quitting the Council of Mayors and vowing not to consider a return for three years. Tate said he found the snub “distasteful” and no longer “wants to be in that team”.

He said south east Queensland would not even be in a position to launch an Olympic bid if it was not for the success of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Rather than stay in the alliance, that he accused of systematically dumping the regions and morphing into ‘Brisbane 2032’, he said the Gold Coast would go it alone to secure City Deals for city projects and lock in state and federal funding in the lead up to the Games.

“The Council of Mayors for nine years has been lobbying Federal and State for City Deals. You haven’t achieved any of them. I want to leave the team that keeps batting ducks,” he said.

It also means Tate, who has expressed support for the Games but rejected putting funds towards hosting it, may refuse to commit the city to shouldering a share of Olympic hosting costs.

IOC Future Host Commission chair Kristin Kloster Aasen said her group had “worked closely” with Brisbane 2032 through a collaborative partnership to “explore how their vision, concept and legacy plans for the Olympic and Paralympic Games could align with social and economic development plans for the city and the region”.

“The new approach to electing Olympic hosts has enabled this project to be enhanced as part of a two-way conversation, honouring our commitment that the Olympic Games should adapt to the needs of the host and their population, and not the reverse,” she said.

The KPMG impact study admitted there would also be “disbenefits” in hosting the Games, largely in the from of economic “opportunity costs” associated with staging the event and the problem of “legacy infrastructure”.

But it said: “Preliminary analysis indicates that the economic and social benefits of hosting the 2032 Games outweigh the disbenefits”.

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