Australia: How are the preparations for 2032 Olympic Games progressing?

source:; author: Paulina Skóra

Australia: How are the preparations for 2032 Olympic Games progressing? Organizers of the Olympic Games in Brisbane have abandoned plans to demolish and rebuild the iconic cricket ground as the central element of the Games in 2032, while also rejecting the recommendation of the evaluating panel regarding a new stadium.


Change of plans?

Instead, Queensland Premier Steven Miles announced a preference for modernizing the existing rugby stadium near Brisbane's city center to host the opening and closing ceremonies. Steven Miles called for an independent review of the Games' plans in January, as opposition to the tripling of costs for the redevelopment of the Gabba stadium intensified. Former Brisbane mayor Graham Quirk conducted a 60-day review, the findings of which were presented to the state government two days after statewide council elections. The review presented 30 recommendations, the primary one being the construction of a new 55,000-seat stadium at Victoria Park, estimated to cost AUD 3.4 billion (USD 2.23 billion) instead of the Gabba redevelopment.

I ordered this review because I heard from Queenslanders that investing AUD 2.7 billion in the Gabba was too much, so I know that AUD 3.4 billion at Victoria Park would also be too high, so I'm ruling that option out, said Steven Miles at a recent press conference.

The Gabba (Brisbane Cricket Ground)© Elliot and Emma (CC BY 2.0) | The Gabba (Brisbane Cricket Ground)

Return to familiar venue?

Simultaneously, he mentioned considering the option of upgrading the Suncorp Stadium, located within a short walk from many railway stations and the city, making it an ideal venue for the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies. The government also plans to upgrade another existing stadium in the city's south, suitable for hosting track and field events. The stadium, currently known as the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre, was the main venue for the 1982 Commonwealth Games. The Australian Broadcasting Corp reported that the total cost of renovating these two stadiums would be AUD 1 billion (USD 66 million). Organizers still need to determine where the indoor swimming stadium will be built for the Olympic Games, which will later be transformed into a covered arena and concert hall.

If there was to be a complete rebuild of the Gabba, we still wouldn't have gotten a world-class stadium because it's very spatially constrained, and that's why we ended up at Victoria Park, said Graham Quirk on ABC radio. It's about building what's needed and a legacy for the people of Queensland.

The Gabba (Brisbane Cricket Ground)© Rae Allen (CC BY 2.0) | The Gabba (Brisbane Cricket Ground)

Games chiefs take the floor

Debate over the plan to demolish and rebuild the existing stadium in the Woolloongabba suburb, built in 1895 and last refurbished in 2005, has been ongoing since the plan was approved in November 2023. Last month, Australian Olympic Committee president Ian Chesterman hinted that he wasn't keen on the idea of rebuilding the aging stadium and using it as one of the main venues for the 2032 Games.

International Olympic Committee vice president John Coates, who played a key role in securing the Summer Games for Australia's third-largest city, also offered alternatives to the Gabba. We've put to the review commission that we should abandon the Gabba and look for another venue for track and field, he told local media last month.

Suncorp Stadium (Lang Park, The Cauldron)© ~Elver | Suncorp Stadium (Lang Park, The Cauldron)

"The new norm"

Coates also suggested holding the opening ceremony at Suncorp Stadium and the athletics events at the QSAC facility under the New Norm concept of the IOC, aimed at avoiding cost overruns for host cities. Miles's government apparently heeded this advice, although the commissioned report indicated that transportation and logistical issues mean the QSAC Stadium does not provide value for money.

According to the original tender plans, the Queensland state government announced a AUD 2.7 billion (USD 1.7 billion) redevelopment of the Gabba, which would require cricket and Australian Rules football team Brisbane Lions to relocate until 2030.

Suncorp Stadium (Lang Park, The Cauldron)© Laurie Morris | Suncorp Stadium (Lang Park, The Cauldron)

Australian athletes' opposition

Swimming champion Grant Hackett is among a group of prominent Australian Olympians and Paralympians calling on the Queensland government to reconsider the controversial choice of stadium for the Brisbane 2032 Olympics. Hackett, who won gold in the 1500m freestyle at the Sydney Olympics and defended his title four years later in Athens, is one of 15 signatories of an open letter to Queensland Premier Steven Miles, critical of the decision to choose QSAC for the 2032 Games.

We, the undersigned, representing current and former Olympians and Paralympians from Queensland, request a reconsideration of the decision to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032 at the current Queensland Sport and Athletic Center in Nathan, the athletes wrote.