The manner in which Brisbane was awarded the OIympics is under fire, with a press release announcing the decision issued before the official vote was even held.
Brisbane was the sole legitimate candidate by the end of the process for the 2032 Games, having become the IOC’s preferred bidder. The official announcement came at 6.30pm on Wednesday (AEST).
Yet a leaked press release from Tokyo Olympics organisers, more than an hour before the official vote, revealed that Brisbane had already secured the Games; leading to accusations that the pomp and ceremony was all for show.
OLYMPICS LIVE BLOG: PRELIMINARY DAY 2 UPDATES
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was already under fire for going to Tokyo, which she insisted was absolutely necessary for the bid’s success. She, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Brisbane Lord Major Adrian Schrinner and Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates gave a final presentation to IOC members about an hour before the final vote, which finished 72 from 77 in Brisbane’s favour.
A New York Times reporter grilled IOC president Thomas Bach about the process after the leaked press released surfaced.
“Not to pour cold water on the celebrations, but just on the process — Mr Bach, we were here yesterday and you said this was not a done deal, this one candidate,” the reporter said.
“But two hours before the vote we got an embargoed press release from Tokyo 2020 congratulating Brisbane on winning this bid … it just gives the air that the IOC membership are kind of a gilded brothers band. What is the point of these people when it comes to a process like this?”
Bach responded: “I’m unaware of this but you cannot blame the IOC members there for a press release from the organising committee. I don’t know what happened there, but it has nothing to do with normal procedure.
“You saw today a final presentation by Brisbane and again the questions and a secret vote. I think this speaks for itself and it has nothing to do with the action (by Tokyo organisers).”
Palaszczuk was later asked by Australian reporters if she really needed to be in Tokyo, while many Aussies are locked down and being told to stay at home.
“I’ll let John (Coates) talk about the delegation but can I say we had state, federal and council represented here and you saw our commitment to convincing the International Olympic Committee that we are ready to host the 2032 Olympics,” she said.
Coates added: “The IOC president had no idea about it (the leaked press release), so that’s that.
“If Richard (Federal Sports Minister Richard Colbeck), Adrian and the Premier weren’t there, and little Johnny Coates had to go up there on his own, there wouldn’t have been 50 per cent of the votes.
“The IOC members want to see the true people who have done it. It was an actual necessity … she (Palaszczuk) had to be here.”
Palaszczuk was again grilled over apparent “double standards” by a reporter, having left locked-down Brisbane for virus-rife Tokyo, where more than 1000 COVID-19 cases per day are being recorded.
“It’s the decision between the IOC and the Japanese government for the Olympics to go ahead. I do not make that decision, that is their decision,” she said.
“You’re all here for the Olympics, we’re here to get the 2032 Olympics for Brisbane, which we have done tonight, which is a great night of celebration and that is something we should be focused on.”
Schrinner insisted that it would have been ridiculous to “put $8 billion worth of economic and social benefits for Queensland down to a Skype call. I wouldn’t put $17 billion worth of benefits for Australia down to a Skype call.”
Brisbane will host the third Olympics Games held in Australia, following Melbourne 1956 and Sydney 2000.
The process was vastly different to those followed in awarding the Sydney Games, which came down to a genuine decision that was famously announced by former IOC boss Juan Antonio Samaranch.
With only major international cities traditionally staging the Olympics, Brisbane has also positioned itself as a new kind of project for the IOC.
“We want to show the world that mid-sized cities and regions can host the Games without financial distress or missed deadlines,” Palaszczuk told voters.
Brisbane said it already has 84 per cent of stadiums and event venues in place to fit the IOC’s modern demand of avoiding excessive spending and potential white-elephant projects.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!