Australia’s Olympics chief has defended the nation’s ability to host the world’s premier sporting event, saying he has “every confidence” in the Brisbane 2032 games organisers.
Australian Olympic Committee chief executive Matt Carroll made the comments to senators as part of a committee hearing in Brisbane on Tuesday into Australia’s preparedness to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie said she had concerns about state-level oversight given Victoria’s announcement last month that it was withdrawing from hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
Mr Carroll said the Brisbane 2032 Co-ordination Office, which was established by the Queensland government in March, will handle infrastructure, security and transport while the Brisbane Organising Committee (BOCOG) would run the events.
BOCOG is funded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) through sponsorships, broadcast deals and ticket sales to the Brisbane games.
“The co-ordination office needs to work hand in hand daily, with the team at (BOCOG), because Brisbane is responsible to the (IOC) for putting the games on, as we promised,” Mr Carroll said.
Mr Carroll said the operating cost for the Brisbane games would be $4.5 billion not including capital costs such as new sports facilities.
One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts asked where the value for money would come from and Mr Carroll said there would be benefits beyond new infrastructure in southeast Queensland.
“A good example was the women’s FIFA World Cup (that) has galvanised a country to champion their female athletes (and) also motivated a whole lot of young girls to take up sport,” Mr Carroll said.
When asked about the accountability of games organisers, Mr Carroll said their reports to the IOC would become more frequent.
“This is the first time that the games has been awarded so far out, so in many ways the planning and structuring of the games is where it should be,” Mr Carroll said.
Paralympics Australia chief executive Catherine Clark warned the upper house committee that the nation’s team would likely be the smallest since the 2004 Athens games.
Ms Clark said cancelling the Victorian Commonwealth Games as it had taken away the chance for Australian Paralympians to confirm the classification of their impairments without having to compete overseas.
“For the last 10 to 15 years (classification) has run off a very thin base, a $300,000 investment,” Ms Clark said.
BOCOG chief executive Cindy Hook told the hearing that two thirds of surveyed Queenslanders supported the Brisbane games.
“There will be inconveniences of hosting an event of this size and scale, you can’t say there’ll be no impact, but we need to minimise that,” Ms Hook said.
Ms Hook was asked about the previous testimony of community groups opposed to the $2.7 billion plan to replace the Gabba stadium and demolish a state school.
“I certainly have empathy that change is hard. And those decisions are difficult that the state government has made,” Ms Hook said.
Ms Hook said the long lead time before the games was either a blessing or a curse depending on how it was used.
(Australian Associated Press)