Olympics-Boyle fears Brisbane 2032 will look like ‘cheapskate’ Games

By Thomson Reuters Mar 19, 2024 | 8:54 PM

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian athletics great Raelene Boyle fears Brisbane 2032 will look like a “cheapskate” Olympics after the decision to stage the track and field at a 49-year-old stadium in the southern suburbs of the city.

Organisers originally planned to revamp the city’s Gabba cricket stadium to host the opening and closing ceremonies as well as the athletics but the Queensland government blanched at the cost and ordered a review of plans last December.

The review, however, on Monday proposed a new purpose-built 55,000-seat Olympic stadium be constructed in an inner city park at a cost of A$3.4 billion ($2.22 billion).

Queensland Premier Steven Miles rejected that recommendation on the grounds of cost and decided rugby stadium Lang Park would host the ceremonies with the track and field shunted to the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre (QSAC).

“I think it is a shame for the sport and the city,” Boyle, who won three silver medals in sprints at the 1968 and 1972 Olympics, told News Corp.

“I don’t think it will show the city off that well and Brisbane could look like cheapskates are running the Games. The only thing going for it is there is already a track there.

“I don’t think it will be a great place to have track and field because it’s old. It is a small stadium and it will have to be revamped dramatically.

“But I also see the other side in that this is a terrible time to be spending money on the Olympics when people are struggling with their mortgages and there are tent cities happening in some of the parks.”

Miles promised that QSAC would be refurbished at a cost of A$1.6 billion to create “the nation’s best athletics facility”.

Even that price tag was too high for Olympic powerbroker John Coates, one of the drivers of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s New Norm process under which Brisbane was awarded the 2032 Games in 2021.

The more targeted procedure aims to save hundreds of millions of dollars for host cities and increase long-term sustainability.

“I don’t see it as a given that it’s necessary to spend A$1.6bn on QSAC,” the IOC Vice-President told New Corp from Switzerland.

“I am the IOC member in Australia and it’s my duty to remind them the basis upon which they bid for the games,” he added.

“If we don’t honour those arrangements there’s plenty of other countries that can say, why did you give it to Brisbane when they didn’t have all the venues?”

Some 80% of the venues for the 2032 Games are already in place with the stadium refurbishments and a federal government-funded A$2.5 billion arena to host the swimming the only major construction projects planned.

($1 = 1.5335 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, Editing by Peter Rutherford)