How a failed Olympic bid paved the way for Brisbane to secure the 2032 Olympics
The idea of ââtransforming Brisbane into an Olympic city originated in the 1980s.
Brisbane’s successful bid to host the 2032 Olympics comes after several unsuccessful bids in the 1980s
Hosting the 1992 Olympics reportedly transformed Brisbane and saw a marina built in the city’s north
The tendering process previously involved international parties assimilated to an election campaign
When the capital of Queensland was granted host city status for the games of the 35th Olympiad in 2032, it turns out that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had already heard a lot about the pitch.
Brisbane finished in the bronze medal position behind Barcelona and Paris in the 1992 Olympic bid.
Although this attempt failed, it did bring the Sunshine State to success almost 40 years later.
What would the city have looked like if the 1992 Olympics had been held in Brisbane?
Much of the promotional material for Brisbane’s first IOC bid has been archived by the State Library of Queensland.
Brisbane divided into Olympic zones
Robyn Hamilton is part of the collection’s construction team and said that looking back if Brisbane had been successful the city would have been completely different today.
âThe offer offered four zones; one in Boondall, one in QEII, one in Chandler and one in the city,â she said.
Like the offer for Brisbane 2032, many sites for 1992 were already under construction.
âThe offer was to arrive in a city that already had a lot of infrastructure,â Ms. Hamilton said.
“Because we had a very successful Commonwealth Games in 1982, it felt like we already had a lot of venues and facilities.”
Ring bells? It should be, as it was also one of the main selling points of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s final address to the IOC at Tokyo 2020.
Cutting costs for host cities has been a priority for the IOC and has helped Queensland secure Australia’s third Olympics after Sydney 2000 and Melbourne in 1956.
What never materialized, however, was the transformation of Boondall, a northern suburb of Brisbane, which would have seen an athlete village built to house 15,000 competitors and officials.
The artists’ impressions show that the village would even have had its own marina and several training facilities, including an aquatic and hockey center built nearby.
The so-called Zone 1 was based around the city center with media facilities at South Bank.
Several sports, including tennis, boxing, soccer and water polo, were reportedly played at venues, such as Lang Park, in the area.
Athletes and officials were reportedly based in Boondall in Zone 2.
One of the benefits of this at the time was the recent completion of the Gateway Bridge in January 1986.
Delegates told the IOC that this would allow athletes to be within 20 kilometers or 30 minutes of all venues due to this new infrastructure.
Swimming, weightlifting, badminton, cycling, judo and table tennis are all believed to have been practiced in Zone 3, based at the Sleeman Sports Complex in Chandler.
The Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Sports Center, which would have been Zone 3, was to host the opening and closing ceremonies and could have accommodated up to 95,000 people with temporary stands.
The Olympic candidacy as a âschmoozeâ electoral campaign
The IOC has since streamlined the voting process, but in 1986 becoming an Olympic host was more like an election campaign.
IOC delegates would travel and visit potential host cities, which in turn would attempt to âwinâ their vote.
Former mayor Sallyanne Atkinson has traveled the world and was the face of Brisbane’s 1992 candidacy, which even involved a TV commercial and the song “Brisbane Is Ready”, performed by local artists.
âWhen IOC members came to visit Brisbane, they always wanted to go to Lone Pine and cuddle a koala,â she said.
âIn fact, a few times we had the koalas come to town hall.
“Schmooze is a really good word because that’s what it was.”
She described being one of the last six contenders for the 1992 Games as “much more relaxed and informal” than the process these days.
âThere were parties organized by different cities visiting, and we all went to everyone’s city,â Ms. Atkinson said.
This included a final visit to the IOC in Switzerland, where Ms Atkinson recalled realizing Barcelona were clearly the favorites to host 1992.
“I used to tell the IOC members, you know in Australia we have a very famous horse race called the Melbourne Cup and the favorite never wins, so you know we always have a chance” , she said.
Either way, she saw the process as a wonderful marketing opportunity for Brisbane.
Lessons from an Olympic defeat
In the end, Brisbane clinched third place in the 1992 Games vote behind Barcelona and Paris – all three have since won host rights.
Ms Atkinson also led a campaign to have Brisbane run again for the 1996 Olympics, but Australia instead elected Melbourne as their preferred host, which ultimately finished fourth in the votes behind Atlanta, Athens and Toronto.
Ms Atkinson was not directly involved in the most recent candidacy, but can draw many comparisons to her efforts over 30 years ago.
âThe fact that Brisbane is warm and friendly, and that’s the spirit of Olympism, it’s about bringing people together, especially young people,â she said.
Robyn Hamilton of the State Library also noticed the same ethics in the archived documents.
âA sunny state, a river city, a beautiful, safe and secure place to come,â Ms. Hamilton said.