SYDNEY : A group of local Olympians, including London 2012 champion hurdler Sally Pearson, have called on the Queensland government to reverse a decision to stage the athletics at the 2032 Brisbane Games in a 49-year-old suburban stadium.

The 14 Olympians and Paralympians, who also included swimming champions Leisel Jones, Jon Sieben and Grant Hackett, said in a letter that the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre (QSAC) was not a suitable venue for the Olympics.

“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,” they wrote.

“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 blanched at the cost and ordered a review of plans last December.

The Quirk review reported last month and 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 rugby stadium Lang Park would host the ceremonies with the track and field shunted to QSAC in southern suburbs of the city.

The letter from the Olympians echoes the comments of Australian athletics great Raelene Boyle, who said last month that Brisbane risked being viewed as a “cheapskate” Olympics.

Miles promised that QSAC would be refurbished at a cost of A$1.6 billion but even that could be counterproductive, the Olympians 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,” the letter added.

“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.”

Miles, whose Labor government will be looking to secure a fourth straight term at state elections in October, sounded in no mood to change his mind when he spoke to reporters on Tuesday.

“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,” he told Brisbane’s Courier-Mail.

“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.

($1 = 1.5406 Australian dollars)


Leave A Reply

© 2024 The News Singapore. All Rights Reserved.