Boost for Brisbane

Sports | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 26 Feb 2021

Australians hailed Brisbane's newly minted status as front-runner to host the 2032 Olympics yesterday as a symbol of hope after a year of pandemic gloom.

Locals welcomed news that the International Olympic Committee had given the sun-kissed city of two million people "preferred bidder status," with no rivals currently in the hunt.

"It is an exciting day," said Prime Minister Scott Morrison, acknowledging "we've still got a long way to go."

The IOC announcement does not mean Brisbane is guaranteed to get the Games, and there is said to be interest from other cities, but it is now the hot favorite.

Queensland state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said victory would help the region recover from the coronavirus pandemic, which has decimated the vital local tourist industry.

Overseas travellers have been mostly barred from entering largely Covid-free Australia for the last year.

"It would bring huge economic benefit and jobs as part of our economic recovery as we come out of Covid," she said.

"Most importantly, it gives us hope, it gives us something to look forward to. 2032 may be out in the distance - but it's that firm light at the end of the tunnel."

Sports-mad Australia has hosted the Olympics twice, in Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000.

Brisbane and the nearby Gold Coast already have extensive sporting infrastructure and Palaszczuk said the bid would be "practical and pragmatic," without the need to build stadiums that will go unused after the Games.

"We already have 85 percent of the venues at the moment - it's a new norm, which means it's a game changer," she said.

Sport Australia chief executive Rob Dalton said: "Things have been tough, but we've said all along that sport will play a prominent role in lifting the nation's energy and spirits again."

Games organizers are trialling a new dialogue-based bid system for 2032 after cities shied away from the previous competitive process, wary of soaring costs and being lumbered with white elephant stadiums.

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