Flag bearers are seen during the Opening Ceremony of the XXI Commonwealth Games at Carrara Stadium, on the Gold Coast. Picture: AP Image/Dean Lewins
Flag bearers are seen during the Opening Ceremony of the XXI Commonwealth Games at Carrara Stadium, on the Gold Coast. Picture: AP Image/Dean Lewins

We have no choice but to bid for Games

"THIS is a famous victory. A magnificent performance. What a legend. What a champion.''

With those 14 words, broadcaster Bruce McAvaney summed up the sentiments of a nation after Cathy Freeman had just won the 400m at the Sydney Olympics.

It was certainly one of the great moments in Australian sport. Australia held its breath that night, willing the shy little girl from Mackay to the finish line. Many a tear was shed as Australia saluted the enormity of her performance.

Cathy Freeman with her 400m gold medal.
Cathy Freeman with her 400m gold medal.

And for Australia it was more than Olympic gold. This was a story about hope, dreams and inspiration, of how an indigenous girl from a North Queensland town took on the world and triumphed on the biggest stage in sport.

The symbolism of what Cathy Freeman did that night should never be lost on this country. It gave hope to our indigenous brothers and sisters that anything is possible, with hard work and dedication.

It also demonstrated to a generation of young Australian girls that Australia is a land of hope and opportunity, whether it be as an Olympian, a pilot, a politician or brain surgeon.

After 2000, Australia celebrated its first female prime minister, governor-general and of course now Queensland has a woman premier, opposition leader, police commissioner and chief justice.

The lesson from the Sydney Olympics is that you can't put a cost on the cultural, emotional and psychological benefits of hosting the greatest show on Earth. Opportunity now knocks for a concerted southeast Queensland bid for the 2032 or 2036 Olympic Games.

It is clear the Internation-al Olympic Committee, under the leadership of Thomas Bach, believes the quality of the Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast regional offering is compelling. Our geopolitical and financial stability complements a proven track record of delivering. Sydney is still regarded as the best Olympics ever.

Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony with the white whale Migaloo. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony with the white whale Migaloo. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Sources say Bach was "incredibly supportive and impressed'' with what he saw, and was urging the Australian Olympic Committee to proceed to the next step, a proper feasibility study and then a formal bid.

The IOC process is now much more streamlined. Just as the IOC did with Paris and Los Angeles, if a bid is so good that it deserves to succeed, it will get the nod, whether for 2032 or 2036. This is a golden opportunity.

On top of the obvious nation character-building benefits, the infrastructure requirements and permanent benefits attached to hosting an Olympics are reason alone to bid and win in 2032-2036.

Brisbane came of age in the 1980s with the hosting of the Commonwealth Games and World Expo. South Bank is an enduring legacy to World Expo and it is now probably the city's most popular and famous landmark.

The Commonwealth Games has provided the Gold Coast with enduring legacies such as a world-class aquatic precinct and better roads and public transport.

The Palaszczuk Government has embraced events tourism and we saw with the NRL Magic Round last weekend that big events attract visitors and help our local economy. That's why the MMA event proposed for Brisbane in September must go ahead, with international visitation likely to be in the tens of thousands.

Brisbane is on the cusp of a golden era. We have the second airport runway due to open next year, a new cruise ship terminal, the $3 billion Queen's Wharf development in 2022 and the Brisbane Live project, a 17,000 seat arena planned for the Roma Street railyards.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (centre) with IOC President Thomas Bach (right) and Australian Olympic chief John Coates on the Gold Coast last week.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (centre) with IOC President Thomas Bach (right) and Australian Olympic chief John Coates on the Gold Coast last week.

Then there's the Cross-River Rail and Brisbane Metro to improve public transport. Hosting an Olympics would also spark fresh projects, including a likely second M1 linking Brisbane to the Gold Coast.

Victoria Park would be transformed to host the athletes' village. The cost of hosting an Olympics will be debated ad nauseam by our local, state and federal politicians. But the cost of a modern, progressive state such as Queensland not doing it far outweighs the final fiscal bill. Carpe diem.

peter.gleeson@news.com.au



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