Home Australia Star Olympians label Brisbane 2032 plans ‘an embarrassment’ as Queensland premier hits back

Star Olympians label Brisbane 2032 plans ‘an embarrassment’ as Queensland premier hits back

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Prime Minister Steven Miles standing in front of microphones and speaking to journalists

Olympic gold medalists Sally Pearson, Grant Hackett and Leisel Jones are among the latest high-profile athletes urging a rethink of controversial stadium plans for the 2032 Brisbane Games.

The trio were among a group of Olympic and Paralympic athletes who on Tuesday signed an open letter criticizing plans to host the Olympic athletics trials at the 49-year-old Queensland Sport and Athletics Center (QSAC).

Others who put their names to the letter included Olympic swimmers Melanie Wright, Brooke Hanson, Geoff Huegill, Jon Sieben, Andrew Baildon, Chris Wright and Brenton Rickard, as well as Paralympians Curtis McGrath, Karni Liddell and Monique Murphy.

A recent infrastructure review commissioned by the Queensland government had recommended the construction of a $3.4 billion, 55,000-seat stadium at Victoria Park in inner Brisbane as the centerpiece of the 2032 Games.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles has defended his government’s plans to renovate existing stadiums.(ABC News: Jessica van Vonderen )

But Queensland Premier Steven Miles announced a plan to renovate Lang Park, QSAC and the aging Gabba.

The $2.5 billion Brisbane Arena, which will host swimming, will be the only new stadium built with federal funding.

Swimmer Ariarne Titmus, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, last week questioned the state government’s plans for the Games, saying Brisbane needed to “do our best and because of these decisions we won’t.”

Tuesday’s open letter supported Titmus’ concerns.

“While we understand the desire to get the best value for taxpayers from the Games, we do not believe the QSAC site represents that, not only financially but also in terms of legacy for Brisbane and Queensland,” he said.

“And frankly, a main stadium with a capacity of only 40,000 people would be a disgrace that would in no way represent the spirit of Queensland moving forward.”

The letter also pointed to the prime minister’s promise to spend $1.6 billion on renovating the QSAC.

“The QSAC facilities are the nursery of athletics in this state, and any disruption at the site could only harm our performance at our home Games,” he said.

“We all remember the magnificent event that Sydney organized in 2000.

“Queensland deserves something equally spectacular, without a centerpiece that reeks of compromise. It’s not too late to change your mind, Mr Miles.”

Queensland’s premier said on Tuesday that concerned athletes were “entitled to their opinion, but we listened to Queenslanders”.

“They tell me about their hospital, their school, how difficult it is for them to make ends meet,” he said.

“When Queensland faces those kinds of daily challenges, I can’t justify spending billions more on stadiums, no matter how many swimmers ask me.”


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