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Southeast Queensland’s Olympic dream has backing of experts

AN OLYMPIC Games bid gives southeast Queensland a unique opportunity to create history – and build a future – according to some of the region’s leaders.

An 18-month feasibility investigation this week concluded there is a compelling case for the area to have a tilt at hosting the world’s greatest sporting event – with the eyes of billions of people around the globe focused here.

The Courier-Mail sought the opinions on some of SEQ’s industry and thought leaders on the pros and cons of a Games bid.

Their response was an overwhelming endorsement that if we can do it right, the Olympics can be used as a launchpad to crucial infrastructure investment, tourism and trade growth, and claiming the region’s place as a true global player.

John O’Sullivan: Chief executive, Tourism Australia

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’d love to see southeast Queensland put in a serious bid for the 2032 Olympic Games.

I grew up in Brisbane, and witnessed first-hand the transformational effect of the 1982 Commonwealth Games and World Expo 88. These two events were the start of the transformation of the city from a country town to a New World City. The 2032 bid presents an even bigger opportunity.

Having been privileged enough to be part of the team that delivered the Sydney 2000 Olympics and Paralympic Games, I have seen first-hand the impact these types of events have on the host destination.

The Olympic Games is “tourism gold”. They don’t come any bigger. An extra 6.3 million domestic and international tourists arrived in Sydney as result of Sydney 2000 – that’s two-thirds of Australia’s current total inbound market, for one event!

Images of Queensland will be beamed into billions of homes and the hours of “colour” coverage will showcase the southeast like never before. The global television audience for Sydney 2000 was 3.7 billion and with digital rights we can expect many more eyeballs next time round if Australia was to secure its third Olympic Games.

I am really excited about the huge marketing opportunity the bid represents.

Bernard Salt: Managing director, The Demographics Group

If Brisbane and southeast Queensland really do have global aspirations then the ultimate test, the pre-eminent stage, upon which to showcase this ambition is hosting the Olympic Games, with the first available slot being 2032.

Now it’s Brisbane’s turn to be the focal point, to be the recipient of federal funding, to amp up the scale and quality of sporting, cultural and transportation facilities. And to create a legacy so that others too, globally, might see what we already know. And that is that Brisbane and southeast Queensland represent a new kind of Australia for the 21st century.

Arguably Melbourne’s prowess in hosting sporting events today stems from their initial Olympics investment in infrastructure. And Sydney’s Olympic legacy today is that it is recognised as Australia’s gateway city.

Well, a successful Brisbane 2032 bid would not only close the gap with the “old” cities down south but it would also galvanise the community, inject funding, attract skills and put a spring into the step of every Brisbanite and every Queenslander for the whole of the 2020s.

James Tuma: National director, Urbis

The idea of mounting a bid for the southeast Queensland region to host an Olympics is an exciting one, for a few reasons – and none of them relate to the event itself. The simple act of bidding, regardless of outcome, is a clear signal to the world that we have the ideas, governance structures, leadership, capital and influence required to successfully host the games.

Regardless of whether the bid is successful, it puts us on the global stage set for consideration as a venue for a range of other events, drives tourism awareness, and catalyses infrastructure investment in readiness. It also forces us to have a single vision for the region we want to become.

If well planned, legacy infrastructure can leave future generations with world class public transport, incredible sporting facilities, great public spaces, and seed the creation of new economically productive precincts built around media, sports excellence, and arts and culture.

Imagine after the event, waking up to a seamlessly connected region, sparkling with world’s best community and sporting infrastructure, known and attractive to investment, and famously in the global consciousness as the best place to live.

Raynuha Sinnathamby: Managing director, Springfield City Group

Bidding to host the Olympics is a big call. But I believe it’s time for us to step up, be bold, and pursue a united vision that embodies our desire to take this region from good to great. Done right, the Olympics could be the perfect catalyst for this. It will bring into sharp focus what we want to accomplish as a region over the next two decades, and a global stage on which to achieve it.

SEQ offers many great locations for venues for an Olympic bid. A successful bid could unlock investment in the region, allowing city-shaping projects to take place, creating new jobs and providing a long-term boost to our economy.

Why wouldn’t we want to be added to the list of Olympic cities that roll off people’s tongues?

There will be pessimists who squabble over the worthiness and risks of financing a “one-time event”. But if we get it right, the statewide, long-term advantages are well within reach.

“Faster, higher, stronger”. The motto is as inspiring now as it was when first proposed in 1894. Surely we don’t want to let such an incredible opportunity pass us by.

Denis Wagner: Chairman, Wagners

We have a unique situation in so far as we have not just one city but a diverse region which can accommodate this event. While there are always some challenges with the funding of infrastructure and disruption that could be caused, we should take a long-term view on the benefits.

Provided we spend our money wisely, with Australian companies, and can ensure we get value for money when we build the facilities, we will enjoy the benefits for generations. The construction of facilities will generate unprecedented work before the event, the event itself will generate a significant boost to the SEQ economy and we will have world class facilities for decades into the future.

There will be some inconvenience to our community through the event, however the long-term benefits for the region far outweigh short-term disruption.

Paul Turner: Chief communication officer, RACQ

The lighting of the Olympic flame igniting the cauldron at the 2032 Olympics should be the catalyst of an infrastructure explosion across southeast Queensland.

RACQ believes a successful SEQ Olympics is far more than just the provision of new sports stadiums. It has the potential to create the roads, rail, bus, cycling and pedestrian transport networks which would transform our region and guarantee its place as the most liveable in the country.

Most importantly, it would provide a building and planning lightning rod in uniting all three levels of government and all major political parties (for once) to align their infrastructure planning in the pursuit of a common goal.

Crucially, the SEQ Council of Mayors’ proposal to see SEQ become a 45-minute region, where fast rail and connected transport slashes travel time from the Gold or Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba areas to the Brisbane CBD to 45 minutes or less, would need to become reality to ensure a workable Games.

Sallyanne Atkinson: Former Brisbane lord mayor

The Olympics have always affected the places they were held. The first Games

took place almost 3000 years ago in Olympia, Greece, and Olympia became an instant tourist destination. And still today it’s visited as a place of deep

significance for sports lovers.

In modern times, Barcelona and London are two cities that have benefited from hosting Olympic Games.

People ask about the comparison between the Olympics and Expo, particularly our Expo 88. They are obviously both major events but different. For us in Brisbane, it’s been the legacy of Expo that’s been most important.

It’s not just Southbank, that much-used strip of riverside parkland, but the memories. Last year we celebrated the 30-year anniversary and still people feel deeply emotional and a strong connection to an event that has had such a major effect on our city. And so it will be with the Olympics.

Steve Abson: Chief executive, Infrastructure Association of Queensland

In 2032, southeast Queensland will be a vibrant connected region following a period of growth and major infrastructure development. So while the competition is likely to be hot with Indonesia, India, Germany and a joint North and South Korea bidding for the opportunity to host the games, southeast Queensland has the strength to muscle up and host the greatest show on earth.

However, it is worth noting the major lessons of recent games. Our emerging professionals group at the Infrastructure Association of Queensland released a compelling research paper analysing the lessons learned from Olympic and Commonwealth Games host cities such as London, Sochi, Glasgow and Rio. Aside from securing the all-important public support for a bid, the paper identifies the need to optimise use of existing venues, integrate games infrastructure with planned major infrastructure spending, and deliver projects aligned to the city strategy.

Following the success of last April’s Commonwealth Games, and with a City Deal in sight, a southeast Queensland bid can meet these requirements.

No doubt there will be challenges. But with political willpower and a commitment from all levels of government, southeast Queensland could go for gold.

Scott Hutchinson: Chairman, Hutchinson Builders

I think anything like this which creates activity is a good idea. I really can’t see much downside to hosting an Olympics apart from a couple of weeks of transport congestion.

From a construction sector point of view, it’s positive of course. The industry does not like mad booms or busts. This would create a steady foreseeable pipeline of work for several years beyond the projects already underway or due to start.

More broadly, it would make people more aware of the region and its attractions and give it an international profile that it does not have now.

Bring it on, I say.

Darryl Passmore, Courier Mail