He said, she said: Olympic bosses contradict Miles, deny ‘lobbying’ for Games venues

The International Olympic Committee says it has had no influence on the Brisbane 2032 infrastructure plan, contradicting the Queensland premier’s claims.

Mar 22, 2024, updated Mar 22, 2024
John Coates looks on during an Australian Olympic Committee event to celebrate One Year to Go to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games at the Qantas Campus in Sydney, Wednesday, July 26, 2023. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

John Coates looks on during an Australian Olympic Committee event to celebrate One Year to Go to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games at the Qantas Campus in Sydney, Wednesday, July 26, 2023. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

But the IOC is not concerned the Queensland government has opted for smaller scale venues, saying “size does not matter”.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles has come under fire after ignoring an infrastructure review’s key findings and adopting a divisive 2032 Games venue plan.

Mr Miles said he made the call on the IOC’s advice.

But the IOC’s Olympic Games executive director, Christophe Dubi, said it had “no judgment” on Brisbane 2032 venues.

“As far as we’re concerned, this is a choice that has to be made by the local communities,” he said after an IOC executive board meeting in Switzerland overnight.

“We have no judgment of value with respect to the final venue that will be used.”

Mr Miles has been criticised for disregarding the review’s recommendation to build a $3.4 billion stadium at Victoria Park in Brisbane’s CBD as the 2032 centrepiece.

The premier also ignored advice that the 49-year-old Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre (QSAC) should not be used for Olympic track and field events.

Mr Miles said he opted to upgrade QSAC for athletics events, Suncorp Stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies and revamp the ageing Gabba on the suggestion of IOC vice-president John Coates.

An upgraded 40,000-seat QSAC will be the smallest Olympic athletics stadium since the 1928 Amsterdam Games, potentially leaving little opportunity for the general public to attend major finals, the review said.

But the IOC was not concerned.

“If you would ask probably the top athletes, they would certainly say that a smaller but absolutely full venue with incredible atmosphere is probably larger than a big cathedral which is only half full,” Mr Dubi said.

“Size does not matter. What really is important is to consider the legacy, the choice of the given community.”

The government has been forced to deny reports it sought advice on cancelling the Brisbane Games because of concerns over the cost of venues and dwindling public support.

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It allegedly considered the move at Monday’s cabinet meeting before backing down when it was discovered how much it would cost in compensation and lost federal funding.

IOC boss Thomas Bach dismissed the reports as “fake news”.

The 60-day review was led by former lord mayor Graham Quirk who along with Mr Coates has reportedly been requested to attend a Senate inquiry hearing into Australia’s Games preparedness in Brisbane on April 17.Federal Sport Minister Anika Wells will seek more detail about the 2032 infrastructure plan while raising athletes’ concerns when the Brisbane Olympic organising committee meets on Friday.

Former Olympic swimming champion Cate Campbell has led criticism of the venue plan, mainly the QSAC upgrade.

She feared a revamp would displace elite athletes who train at the venue, costing Australia medals.

“The moment I hear that athletes are concerned I am concerned as well – that is something I will be raising (on Friday),” Ms Wells told Nine’s Today Show on Thursday.

The review said QSAC would require a $1.6 billion upgrade.

But Brisbane lord mayor Adrian Schrinner claimed up to $500 million in additional funding may be required to fix its transport problems.

Transport Minister Bart Mellish on Thursday said the government was working on a “comprehensive transport plan” for QSAC.

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