The Olympics will return to Australia for a third time with Brisbane formally awarded hosting rights for the 2032 Games following a vote of International Olympic Committee member nations in Tokyo.
Wednesday’s decision was a foregone conclusion given Brisbane was the only bid city still in the running and it was firmly endorsed by the IOC.
Celebratory fireworks lit up Brisbane’s night sky as the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, and the Australian delegation – who had travelled to Tokyo to make their case in person – signed contracts and took photos in Japan.
“This is a very proud day for Australia, make no mistake,” Australian Olympic Committee president and IOC vice-president John Coates said.
“I thank the IOC members for their confidence. Brisbane 2032 is genuinely committed to serving the ideals of the Olympic movement. The Olympic Games in Brisbane will be in the most diligent, grateful and enthusiastic hands. I make this commitment to the athletes of the world – we will provide you with an unforgettable experience.”
The bid team, led by Palaszczuk, the federal sports minister, Richard Colbeck, and the Brisbane lord mayor, Adrian Schrinner, made presentations to the IOC before committee members questioned them on the sustainability of the Games.
Schrinner said climate policy had always formed a “key part” of the proposal, which included the use of sustainable fuel sources and large plantations to help offset emissions generated by the Games. “Right from the beginning we wanted this to be a sustainable Games,” Schrinner said. “We wanted to commit and … we would be the first host city to contractually agree to a climate-positive Games.”
Palaszczuk told the meeting Queensland would offer the Olympic movement “a safe pair of hands”. “We pledge to create a successful model under your new host city strategy by showcasing a cost-neutral, climate-positive, safe … and enthralling experience for the whole world,” she said.
The IOC announcement sparked celebrations in Brisbane on Wednesday night as fireworks erupted. Photograph: Jason O’Brien/AAP
Earlier on Wednesday, IOC communications director Mark Adams had tried to play down the certainty surrounding the bid. “This is not a done deal because it’s still up to the session to decide,” he said. “They can decide to put the issue back in the pot – there are still a number of interested cities.”
But with the fireworks already scheduled, late drama was not expected and the members ratified the decision during the IOC session in a plush hotel in central Tokyo.
The 2032 Olympics, the third to be hosted in Australia after Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000, is estimated to cost $5bn. The majority of this is expected to be recouped through ticket revenue, domestic sponsorship and broadcast rights.
The bid has predicted the Games will bring $17bn in economic benefit, although the Olympic movement is famous for high expectations unmatched by economic reality.
“My government is proud to be supporting this opportunity for Brisbane and southeast Queensland,” prime minister Scott Morrison said while making his case via video link from Australia. “The Australian and Queensland governments are fully funding the infrastructure projects to be delivered in preparation for the Games, ensuring that they deliver for Brisbane 2032, but also leave a lasting legacy.”
Brisbane will also host the Paralympics, the second time Australia has done so – the first Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960.
“Our vision and plans are ambitious, as they should be,” Paralympics Australia president Jock O’Callaghan said in a statement. “We will be guided by a relentless focus on inclusion, diversity and accessibility and we’ll be driven by the Paralympic ideals of determination, equality, inspiration and courage.”
Brisbane’s successful bid comes amid a period of turmoil for the IOC. The Swiss-based international sporting body has attracted sustained criticism for its approach to the Tokyo 2020 Games, which began on Wednesday with softball fixtures and officially commences at Friday’s opening ceremony.
The IOC has pushed on with its plans for this month’s Games, more than a year after it was postponed as a result of Covid-19, in the face of widespread domestic opposition. Polls suggest about 80% of the Japanese population want the Olympics cancelled.