BRISBANE: Recent Olympics have been wracked by controversy, cost blowouts and coronavirus chaos but the residents of Brisbane, strongly tipped to host the 2032 Games, look ready to welcome the event with open arms.
The sun-drenched Australian city appears all but certain to be anointed 2032 hosts on Wednesday when the International Olympic Committee holds a vote in Tokyo ahead of the delayed 2020 Games.
In other cities, a bid to host an event of such magnitude might prompt demonstrations, or at the very least vigorous public debate. Yet residents of Brisbane have greeted the news with enthusiasm.
“The city is gorgeous, the people are beautiful. And it would be lovely to get something like this happening in the city,” Marium Ammar, who moved to Brisbane from Pakistan seven years ago, told AFP.
Qatar had also been in the running to host the 2032 Olympics and there was a long-shot joint bid between South and North Korea. But being wealthy and sports-mad puts Australia in poll position, according to Judith Mair, a tourism and events expert at the University of Queensland.
“Australia’s in a very fortunate position of being able to afford to stage one of these big events,” she told AFP. “There are many countries around the world that might perhaps like to but actually are not in a financial position to be able to do so.”
Australia has already hosted the Olympics twice, in Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000, widely considered one of the most successful Games in recent history. Home to about 2.3 million people and bookended by shimmering coastal sands, Brisbane is seen as more laid-back and less cosmopolitan than Australia’s sprawling southern cities.
Venues would be spread across Brisbane and nearby towns in Queensland state, including the Gold Coast which hosted the 2018 Commonwealth Games. There are hopes the Olympics would boost Brisbane’s international profile, making it more attractive to tourists who tend to use it as a jumping-off point for attractions like the Great Barrier Reef.
“I travelled the world and they said, ‘Where’s Brisbane?’ And you have to get out the map and show them it’s an hour north by plane from Sydney,” said Queensland Olympic Council president Natalie Cook. “That’s going to change. And that is so exciting.”