Olympic chiefs play down Brisbane Games progress fears

Laine Clark |

Organisers of the Brisbane 2032 Olympics have been praised by the IOC.
Organisers of the Brisbane 2032 Olympics have been praised by the IOC.

The fallout over a controversial Brisbane 2032 venue plan has reached Olympic powerbrokers, adding to a tumultuous month for organisers.

But the International Olympic Committee insists there is “no reason to start panicking” despite more potential Games infrastructure delays looming.

Almost three years after Brisbane was named as the 2032 Olympic host, the Queensland government has finally released a venue plan.

It has copped scathing criticism after Premier Steven Miles ignored an independent infrastructure review’s key findings and opted to revamp ageing facilities.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles
Steven Miles has come under fire for rejecting a recommendation to build a $3.4 billion stadium. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

IOC co-ordination committee chair Kirsty Coventry said Olympic powerbrokers on the other side of the world were now aware of the Queensland controversy after it had “played out across the sea”.

The backlash came barely a week after the state government denied a report it had inquired about cancelling the Games because of venue cost concerns and dwindling public support.

But Ms Coventry insisted the IOC was not considering “stepping in”, saying it was confident Brisbane 2023 would be an incredible Games after getting an update from organisers.

“We have to remember that we are eight and a half years away, a lot of things will change,” she said after meeting with the Brisbane Olympic organising committee on Wednesday night.

“We are very positive about Brisbane 2032. We are very confident in the team that is in place.”

Ms Coventry said it may take “a few months to a year” to refine the government’s venue plan with potential delays on the horizon.

If elected in October, the Queensland opposition will appoint its own independent infrastructure authority.

Kirsty Coventry
Kirsty Coventry says there’s “really no reason to start panicking at this point”. (Steven Saphore/AAP PHOTOS)

It will report back in February, leaving just seven years for the main venues to be completed before the Games start.

But Ms Coventry said time was still on the Brisbane Games’ side.

“Obviously there will be … some point that we might start getting a little bit concerned (if no progress is made),” she said.

“I don’t foresee this continuing on and on and on. We…won’t be stepping in…right now or in the foreseeable future.

“There’s really no reason to start panicking at this point.”

Mr Miles has come under fire for ruling out the review’s recommendation to build a $3.4 billion stadium at Victoria Park in inner-Brisbane as the 2032 centrepiece.

Instead he opted to upgrade Suncorp Stadium, the ageing Gabba and the 49-year-old Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre.

The likes of swimming champion Ariarne Titmus has led a chorus of disapproval but Ms Coventry said the IOC had no concerns.

“They need to decide what’s best for them – the Games need to fit the region,” she said.

r Ariarne Titmus
Champion swimmer Ariarne Titmus is concerned about the plan for venues at the Brisbane Olympics. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

“No matter what, we will deliver an incredible Games for all the athletes and we will make sure that the fields of play are world standard.”

Asked about the IOC endorsement on Thursday, Mr Miles said: “Of course they still back Brisbane. 

“These are going to be fantastic Games and we have a great plan to deliver them.

“We are still spending $7.1 billion on venues and I know there are some people out there who would like to see me spend billions more, but I will not.”

Brisbane 2032 organising committee president Andrew Liveris said due diligence would be done over the next six months to see what the Games looked like under the government’s venue plan.

But he said work would start on some Games projects this year.

“I think that will start to get people into the spirit of what is really happening here rather than the theoretical,” he said.