How a failed Olympic bid paved the way for Brisbane to secure the 2032 Olympic Games

How a failed Olympic bid paved the way for Brisbane to secure the 2032 Olympic Games

Olympics, Olympic Games

22/10/2021 11:50:00 PM

How a failed Olympic bid paved the way for Brisbane to secure the 2032 Olympic Games

Brisbane's Olympic bid for the 1992 Games could have transformed the river city but was knocked back. Forty years later, its these failed bids that led to the city's 2032 success.

The bidding process previously involved international parties likened to an election campaignWhat would the city have looked like if the 1992 Olympics were held in Brisbane?"The bid proposed four zones; one at Boondall, one at QEII, one at Chandler and one in the city," she said.

)Ring any bells? It should, because this was also one of the key selling points in Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's final pitch to the IOC in Tokyo 2020.Supplied: State Library of QueenslandThe so-called Zone 1 was based around the city centre with media facilities at South Bank.

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The idea of transforming Brisbane into an Olympic city was born in the 1980s. Key points: Brisbane's successful bid to host the 2032 Olympics comes after several failed bids from the 1980s Hosting the 1992 Olympics would have transformed Brisbane and seen a yacht marina built in the city's north The bidding process previously involved international parties likened to an election campaign When Queensland's capital was awarded host city status for the games of the 35th Olympiad in 2032, turns out the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had heard much of the pitch before. Brisbane finished in the bronze medal position behind Barcelona and Paris in the bid for the 1992 Olympics. While that attempt failed, it set the Sunshine State up for success almost 40 years down the track. What would the city have looked like if the 1992 Olympics were held in Brisbane? A lot of the promotional material for Brisbane's first bid to the IOC has been archived by the State Library of Queensland. Brisbane split into Olympic zones Robyn Hamilton is part of the collection-building team and said looking back, if Brisbane was successful, the city would have looked completely different today. "The bid proposed four zones; one at Boondall, one at QEII, one at Chandler and one in the city," she said. An artist impression shows an imagined athletes' village built to house 15,000 people in Boondall, north of Brisbane. ( Supplied: State Library of Queensland ) Like the bid for Brisbane 2032, a lot of the venues for 1992 were already built. "The bid was to arrive at a city which had a lot of infrastructure already," Ms Hamilton said. "Because we'd had a really successful Commonwealth Games in 1982, it was felt that we had a lot of venues and facilities already." Ring any bells? It should, because this was also one of the key selling points in Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's final pitch to the IOC in Tokyo 2020. Lowering the cost for host cities was a renewed focus for the IOC and helped Queensland secure Australia's third Olympic Games after Sydney 2000 and Melbourne in 1956. The 1992 Olympics would have split Brisbane into four zones for various sporting events. ( Supplied: State Library of Queensland ) What never came to fruition though was the transformation of Boondall, a suburb in Brisbane's north, which would have seen an athletes village built to house 15,000 competitors and officials. Artist impressions show the village would have even had its own yacht marina and several training facilities, including an aquatic and hockey centre built nearby. The so-called Zone 1 was based around the city centre with media facilities at South Bank. Several sports, including tennis, boxing, football and water polo would have been played at venues, such as Lang Park, within the zone. Athletes and officials would have been based at Boondall in Zone 2. One of the perks to this at the time was the recent completion of the Gateway Bridge in January, 1986. Delegates told the IOC, it would allow athletes to be within 20 kilometres or 30 minutes of all venues due to this new piece of infrastructure. Swimming, weightlifting, badminton, cycling, judo and table tennis would have all been played in the Zone 3, based at Sleeman Sports Complex at Chandler. Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Sports Centre, which would have been Zone 3, was planned to have hosted the opening and closing ceremonies and could have housed up to 95,000 people with temporary grandstands brought in. Olympic bidding like an election campaign 'schmooze' 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 prospective host cities, who would in turn, try and "win" their vote. Robyn Hamilton looks over historic promotional material for the games that never happened in 1992. ( ABC News: Mark Leonardi ) Former mayor Sallyanne Atkinson travelled the world and was the face of Brisbane's 1992 bid, which even involved a TV commercial and song "Brisbane Is Ready", performed by local artists. "When we had IOC members come to visit Brisbane they always wanted to go to Lone Pine and cuddle a koala," she said. "In fact, on a couple of occasions we got the koalas to come into City Hall. "Schmooze is a very good word because that's what it was." She described being one of the final six contenders for the 1992 Games as "much more relaxed and informal" than the process nowadays. "There were parties hosted by the various visiting cities, and we all went along to everyone else's city," Ms Atkinson said. Former Brisbane lord mayor Sallyanne Atkinson says the Olympic bidding process once involved attending parties at several major cities around the world. ( ABC News: Tom Forbes ) That included a final visit to the IOC in Switzerland, where Ms Atkinson recalled realising Barcelona was the clear favourite to host 1992. "I used to say to IOC members, you know in Australia we have a very famous horse race called the Melbourne Cup and the favourite never wins, so you know, we're always a chance," she said. Regardless, she saw the process as a wonderful marketing opportunity for Brisbane. "[Beforehand] if they [IOC] thought about Australia at all, they thought about Sydney, Melbourne, the bush and the Barrier Reef. Brisbane was not on anybody's radar," she said. Safety and security are key factors in deciding an Olympic city. ( ) Lessons learnt from an Olympic loss In the end, Brisbane tallied third in the vote for the 1992 Games behind Barcelona and Paris — all three have since earnt hosting rights. Ms Atkinson also spearheaded a campaign for Brisbane to bid again for the 1996 Olympics, but Australia instead elected Melbourne as its preferred host, which eventually tallied fourth in the vote behind Atlanta, Athens and Toronto.