Olympics 2032: ‘No one wants white elephants’
If southeast Queensland is chosen to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, it will signal the start of a period of transformation with lasting consequences for the Sunshine Coast.
Last week, we were announced as the preferred candidate to host the 2032 Games and we are now in the final stage of the candidature process, with a decision expected from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) later this year. We're not there yet, but it's looking good!
A 2032 Games will, of course, provide two weeks of scintillating sporting competition under the Queensland sun; you can imagine the enormous global audience watching as the world's best athletes compete against a backdrop of the beautiful Sunny Coast!
But it would be wrong to think a 2032 Games is only about two weeks of sport. If we are declared to be the host, it will deliver two decades of benefits; a decade in the lead up to the Games and a decade beyond.
A favourable decision by the IOC this year would provide us with a runway en route to the Games of over 10 years. There's nothing like a deadline to focus people's minds and to put pressure on the system, and a decade-long horizon should encourage people to dream big about what can be achieved.
What do you want to get out of the 2032 Olympic Games?
This poll ended on 20 March 2021.
Upgrades to the Sunshine Coast Stadium and other sporting facilities
Fast rail and other road and transport upgrades
None of the above
I don't want Queensland to host the 2032 Olympic Games
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
It would provide southeast Queensland an opportunity, for example, to succeed where Sydney and Melbourne have failed - that is, to build infrastructure ahead of the population curve. With an estimated two million more people expected to live in SEQ by 2050, we're going to need better roads, rail, and much more.
It must be the right infrastructure, though. No one wants white elephants, and so anyone eyeing off a special project for the purpose of hosting the Games alone, can forget about it.
This approach of 'no-regrets' infrastructure is consistent with the new way of doing business for the IOC. They call it the 'new norms' where they encourage hosts to use their existing assets and not build new ones.
A 2032 Games would be a catalyst to bring forward the delivery of infrastructure that we need as a region to set us up for the future, not just infrastructure to service the Games.
Now's the time to start talking about it. The Games would be an opportunity to put the Sunshine Coast on the map. So, what do we want to be famous for? We want to protect our enviable way of life, yet we have to accommodate a bigger population, so what projects should be prioritised?
If we are awarded the 2032 Olympic Games, it will provide us with so many golden opportunities. While we're not there yet, we're in the home straight; let's start the conversation and make sure we're all winners not just during the Games, but in the decades before and after.
Ted O'Brien is the Federal Member for Fairfax.