When Sydney won the rights to host the 2000 Olympic Games, the announcement itself became an unlikely club hit.
Juan Antonio Samaranch, the late IOC president, made the big call back in 1993, and his words were immortalised in song, Southend’s “The Winner is…”
Samaranch started a party that lasted seven years. If you call the harbour city home, you could make an argument that the party never stopped.
Last week, Australia won again. But this time there won’t be a catchy pop song framed by a vocal sample with a distinctive European accent.
The fun doesn’t stop there. In a turn of phrase that would make a writer weep, the Committee announced it would enter into “targeted dialogue” with Queensland and its capital to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
There were no champagne corks flying, no sweaty hugs or air punches. Now is not the time for all that. A cloud of mystery hangs over the Tokyo Games, which was pushed back a year into 2021 and has become a money pit for the host country.
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The Olympics can do that. When the Games roll around every four years, the world gets its warpaint on. The host country, for whatever reason, typically enjoys a goldrush. (Australia won 13 in Melbourne, then a national record. In Sydney, the figure was 16, a new record.)
For 16 days, the Olympic Games controls the conversation. The Olympics is a pop-up planet of sport and entertainment.
The financial risks are ridiculous, the rewards perhaps equally so.
Following a closed-doors, cut-price bidding process, Brisbane emerged as “preferred candidate” for several reasons.
Australia’s third city has a proven track record for organising international events, with the Commonwealth Games (two, including the Gold Coast), an Expo and the Goodwill Games in its good books.
The climate in July and August will be beautiful one day, pretty bloody good the next.
And critically, the Sunshine State already has up to 90% of the essential pieces of infrastructure in place.
Hosting an Olympics can bankrupt a city, and leave oversized eyesores for generations to rue. Brisbane and the Gold Coast have no shortage of worldclass venues, from Suncorp Stadium and the Gabba, Metricon Stadium, the QSAC stadium, Brisbane Entertainment Centre and more.
So what does track and field have to do with Australian artists? Potentially, a lot.
Australia’s music community will be invited to shine at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and at festivals and concerts staged within the two-week-long Olympics party. Sydney 2020 shared a piece of the spotlight with the likes of Christine Anu, Kylie Minogue, Human Nature, Pee Wee Ferris and, yes, Nikki Webster.
In 11 years from now, a new generation of homegrown artists will get their chance for Olympics glory, and a decent fee for their efforts. When South Korea hosted the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, organisers thrust K-pop into the spotlight. XO and CL tore it up at the closing ceremony and made new fans everywhere.
It’s not hard to imagine Thelma Plum ruling at the 2032 Opening Ceremony, Violent Soho bringing the house down at the finale.
Also, infrastructure. A proposed inner-city venue, Brisbane Live, the brainchild of ASM Global chief Harvey Lister, was shelved last year, its $2 billion pricetag deemed greater than its benefits to the city. The Olympics could breathe new life into that project, and others.
These are strange times, and anything can flip in a decade. What we do know is that Queensland can deliver a cheap-and-cheerful Olympic Games, and Australia’s music community can go for gold, too.