Are the Olympic Games returning to Australia? At the time of publishing, it seems that Brisbane is the primary preferred bidder for the 2032 Olympics Games. With Paris booked for 2024 and a return, for the third time, to Los Angeles in 2028 the IOC looks ready to return the Games back to Australia.
In potentially picking the South East Queensland bid it has ignored some other strong candidates to push Brisbane into the Gold Medal position for 2032. With excitement already brewing now is the time to reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly of hosting an Olympic Games.
Money. Hosting an Olympics is not cheap. Many cities, for example Mexico, have struggled to pay off their Olympic debts and the biggest cost is building the sporting venues. However, Queensland already has many purpose-built venues already in action which will save millions.
Sharing the love. The Games is about bringing people together and promoting unity and the Brisbane Olympics will do just that. Part of this is the Games sharing its venues around South East Queensland and even potentially Sydney and Melbourne.
The Gospel. Few nations have proven their sports theological skills like Australia. One of the first nations to develop an integrated unified sports chaplaincy network, Australia knows the power of sport to reach people for Jesus’ love and compassion. And during the Sydney Olympics many sporting ministries bloomed because Australian Churches understood the important place sport has within our culture. The Olympics provides the Church with an amazing opportunity to run the race of faith.
Money. Even with many venues ready to go an Olympics cost a huge amount of money. Speaking of venues, the Gabba is tipped as the major stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies yet it holds under 50,000 people. Sydney had over 110,000. Will this mean a major upgrade will be needed? Costs for each Olympics exponentially explode each games due to increased security risks, such as from terrorism or the latest threat. Consider the financial ruin Tokyo has faced due to Covid 19. Regardless of what might happen by 2032 one thing is sure, an Olympics will be a huge financial burden.
Politics. An Olympics provides all governments; local, state and federal, with an opportunity for political manoeuvring and tomfoolery. Add to this mix that the Brisbane bid is across several councils (e.g. Brisbane and Gold Coast) and potentially across states (e.g. Sydney and Melbourne). And you have a melting pot of political point scoring on a scale up with the athletes on the track.
The Unknown. Back in the 1980’s it was the Cold War, into the 2000's it was terrorism, 2020/21 it is a pandemic. The world will always have unknowns ready to unleash a new challenge. What will 2032 bring? A new pandemic? A world fuel crisis? Climate disasters? Global terrorism 2.0? A new post-modernism with battles in gender identity in sport?
Transparency. At the time of publishing, the public have no idea of the bidding process and why the other cities have been excluded so early in the bidding process. Many had strong stories: there was a combined bid from North and South Korea pushing for the Games to bring geopolitical peace to Asia and the world.
Bids from Turkey and Germany that promoted unity: Turkey would be the first Muslim nation to host a games and Germany has such a strong economic and organisational structure that was guaranteed to succeed. What the underlying decision was to move to Brisbane is yet to be clearly seen. In an age of political spin and cries for transparency, the Brisbane bid is still yet to qualify its credentials.
Hosting an Olympics is an amazing privileged: a once in a generation opportunity to host a world event and experience a unity so rare in our world. It also brings great responsibility and challenges. Brisbane and the AOC have the skills to host one of the best games ever, as long as they go in with their eyes wide open.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and Pastor
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover1.html