Queensland's bid to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games could receive a potentially significant boost tomorrow when it is expected that it will be recommended to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board that the Australian state is installed as the preferred candidate.
The IOC's Future Host Summer Commission, chaired by Norway's Kristin Kloster Aasen, has been studying proposals from several cities and regions but has been most impressed by Queensland's bid, insidethegames understands.
If the Executive Board accept the recommendation, then exclusive negotiations are set to be opened with Australian officials with a view to putting Queensland forward to the IOC Session to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032 if they go well.
It had been hoped this could be done as soon at this year's planned IOC Session on the eve of the rearranged Olympics in Tokyo in July, but with the coronavirus pandemic still causing problems with the planning of the event, this now appears unlikely.
Any decision to position Queensland as the preferred bidder, however, will leave several other cities disappointed, particularly Doha.
The Qatar capital had targeted the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games as the next major event it wants to stage after the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the 2030 Asian Games, which it was awarded at the end of last year.
Budapest, an increasingly important hub for leading events and championships, had also hoped to put together a strong bid, as had Rhine-Ruhr in Germany.
Chinese cities Chengdu and Chongqing had also announced in December that they were planning to bid.
Jakarta in Indonesia, New Delhi in India, Istanbul in Turkey and Saint Petersburg in Russia were other cities exploring the possibility of bidding.
It also appears to end the already slim hopes of a joint bid from North and South Korean capitals Pyongyang and Seoul.
The IOC will undoubtedly face criticism about a lack of transparency since John Coates, head of the Australian Olympic Committee and a close ally of the IOC President Thomas Bach, chaired a working group in 2019 that examined changing the process for selecting a host city for 2032.
That led to the establishment of the Future Host Summer Commission, whose other members include IOC doyen Richard Pound from Canada, Italy's Association of Summer Olympic International Federations President Francesco Ricci Bitti and New Zealand's Olympic BMX silver medallist Sarah Walker.
This has led to the previous approach of pitting competing cities against one another to host the Olympics for a given year and then announcing the winner seven years in advance being abandoned.
The Future Host Summer Commission, which also includes International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons, is now empowered to screen potential host cities in what the IOC calls "a continuous dialogue".
Under the new system, the IOC collaborates with prospective countries and cities over time to develop and improve their chances of staging a successful Olympics, then bringing their bids forward when they are ripe for an up-or-down vote at the IOC Session.
The old bidding system created "too many losers" among rejected host cities, who often spent millions of dollars on promoting their campaign and often never bid again, Bach has claimed.
The seeds of Queensland's bid were sowed during a successful Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast in 2018 and it has long been considered the front runner.
A feasibility study on the bid, with Brisbane as the centerpiece, was released by the Council of Mayors, a group representing South East Queensland, in early 2019.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a hiatus to the bid during the coronavirus pandemic but it was revived in December.
The Queensland bid would use much of the infrastructure in operation at Gold Coast 2018.
There has been some local opposition, particularly due to the coronavirus pandemic, although bid leaders claim the Games would help to rebuild the region's economy.