Games rival: ‘Queensland should be worried’



QUEENSLAND'S Olympic bid faces a serious threat after the oil-rich empire of Qatar formally entered the race for world sport's biggest prize.

Qatar, already the confirmed host of the 2022 FIFA soccer World Cup, has requested to engage in the "continuous dialogue" phase of the International Olympic Committee's 2032 bidding process in a move that should have Brisbane bid chiefs worried, according to sports administrator and former Olympian Mark Stockwell.

The buzz around the announcement of Qatar's bid comes with Queensland's own Olympic campaign in hibernation while the state manages the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Stockwell, who guided the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Organising Committee through its own bidding battle against the Sri Lankan city of Hambantota, said the post-COVID-19 world would place renewed value on events like the Olympics and he expected other countries to line up for the chance to host what is often described as 'The Greatest Show on Earth'.

"I think Queensland should be worried," he said.

"The Olympics is this lightning bolt in a bottle that can really supercharge a host city or nation and Qatar has the finances and the credibility to pull it off.

"We (Queensland) are going to have to fight for it.

"No one at the IOC is just going to give us the bid, so we have really got to show that we can actually do it."

Stockwell, a former Olympic swimmer who won three medals at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, is one of Queensland's most successful businessmen and also serves on the Australian Sports Commission.

So far there have been rumours of bids from India, China and even a joint-North and South Korea union, but Qatar is the first rival to Brisbane to officially declare an interest. Overlooked twice in previous Games' bids, Qatar's turn at hosting the 2022 World Cup lends instant credibility and a compelling storyline for a region that has never hosted an Olympics.

Queensland's Olympic bid is officially on hold while the coronavirus pandemic rages across the world.

Mark Stockwell says Queensland will have to fight for the 2032 Olympic Games. Picture; Liam Kidston.
Mark Stockwell says Queensland will have to fight for the 2032 Olympic Games. Picture; Liam Kidston.

A spokesman for the Australian Olympic Committee said the bid would "resume dialogue with the IOC" when the time was right.

"The AOC recognises the potential for the 2032 Olympic Games to play a critical role in Queensland and Australia's economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, quite apart from all the long term health, wellbeing, economic and sporting legacies," he said.

Sunshine Coast Mayor and Council of Mayors (SEQ) representative, Councillor Mark Jamieson, said Queensland remained a strong contender to host the 2032 Olympics.

"Not only would southeast Queensland provide a spectacular backdrop for the 2032 Games, Australia has a great reputation for its ability to deliver successful and memorable world events," he said.

"Regardless of which nations enter the race, we remain focused on creating a compelling proposal for South East Queensland to host the

2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Originally published as Games rival: 'Queensland should be worried'