Olympians call for Brisbane 2032 venue rethink



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Olympians call for Brisbane stadium rethink Image: Government of Queensland

Australian Olympians have called on the Queensland Government to row back on a decision to stage athletics events for the 2032 Brisbane Games at the 49-year-old Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre (QSAC).

Reuters said the 14 Olympians and Paralympians, including London 2012 champion hurdler Sally Pearson and swimming champions Leisel Jones, Jon Sieben and Grant Hackett, said in a letter that the suburban stadium was not a suitable venue for the Olympics.

The group wrote, “While we understand that you want to get the best value for taxpayers out of the Games, we do not believe that the QSAC site represents that, not just financially but also in terms of a legacy for Brisbane and Queensland.

“And frankly, a main stadium with a capacity of only 40,000 would be an embarrassment which in no way would represent the go-ahead spirit of Queensland.”

Organisers originally planned to revamp the city’s Gabba cricket stadium to host the opening and closing ceremonies as well as the athletics in 2032 but the local government balked at the cost and ordered a review of plans last December.

The 42,000-capacity Brisbane Cricket Ground, commonly known as the ‘Gabba’, is a major sports stadium in Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, Australia. The nickname ‘Gabba’ derives from the suburb of Woolloongabba, in which it is located.

Reuters further stated that the Quirk review proposed a new purpose-built 55,000-seat Olympic stadium be constructed in an inner city park at a cost of A$3.4 billion ($2.21 billion).

State Premier Steven Miles rejected that recommendation on the grounds of cost and decided Suncorp Stadium would host the ceremonies with the track and field moved to QSAC in the southern suburbs of the city.

Suncorp Stadium is a multipurpose stadium in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, located in the suburb of Milton. The current facility comprises a three-tiered rectangular sporting stadium with a capacity to hold 52,500 people.

QSAC is a multipurpose sports facility that hosts athletics competitions, concerts and other events. It has two international standard running tracks, a 48,500-seat stadium, a 2,100-seat facility, an eight-court beach volleyball complex, and other spaces for holding functions and meetings.

Miles promised that QSAC would be refurbished at a cost of A$1.6 billion. But the Olympians also said that would be counter-productive in their letter.

They said, “The QSAC facility is the nursery of athletics in this state, and any disruption to the site could only hurt our performance in our home Games.

“We all remember the magnificent event that Sydney put on in 2000. Queensland deserves something equally spectacular, without a centrepiece that would reek of compromise. It’s not too late to change your mind, Mr Miles.”

However, Miles told reporters, “They’re entitled to their opinions but we listen to Queenslanders. They’re talking to me about their hospital, about their school, about how hard they’re finding it to make ends meet.

“When Queensland is facing those kinds of day-to-day challenges, I can’t justify spending billions more on stadiums, no matter how many swimmers ask me.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s coordination commission for Brisbane met with organisers last week and said all plans, including those for venues, should meet the needs of the city rather than the Games.

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