Philip Barker ©ITG

In Australia, they are already getting the celebration areas for Wednesday's (July 21) big announcement which is expected to confirm Brisbane and the Gold Coast as the 2032 Olympic host cities.

The party may stretch the length and breadth of Queensland with live sites at Brisbane’s Riverside Park, the Gold Coast and Cairns.

The Australian candidacy has been described as "irresistible" by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.

The decision has been justified by a desire to secure the Olympic future in uncertain times.

Ever since a delegation from Brisbane and the Gold Coast visited Olympic House in September 2019 it had seemed likely.

Earlier this year Bach spoke of "a vision for a sustainable and feasible Olympic Games."

It was tabled following the supremely successful 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. 

By a coincidence of history, Brisbane last threw its hat into the ring with an Olympic bid in the mid 1980s. They had hosted the 1982 Commonwealth Games and the success of the venture prompted Lord Mayor Roy Harvey to launch an Olympic bid.

A giant kangaroo mascot called Matilda had graced the ceremonies at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games but the mascot in waiting looks to have been a koala, to judge by the glossy promotional brochures which summarised the main points of the "Bid Book."

These paint a picture of a "thriving state capital" in a country of "exciting contrasts."

"The lifestyle is casual and carefree. The sincere hope is that Brisbane will host the 1992 Olympics, a crowning achievement for any city of significance in the world," it said.

A new Lord Mayor Sallyanne Atkinson soon became the familiar face of the bid.

IOC President Thomas Bach, right, who has described Brisbane's candidacy as
IOC President Thomas Bach, right, who has described Brisbane's candidacy as "irresistible", alongside AOC President John Coates, who worked heavily on Brisbane's bid ©Getty Images

"The Brisbane Olympic committee consists of prominent Australians, representing the best brains in Australian business," she said. 

Amongst those working with her were future IOC vice-president John Coates, a lawyer who was then an up and coming sports administrator.

The bid had Government support.

"My Government looks confidently to Brisbane and pledges its full assistance and cooperation to ensure the success of the event," Queensland state Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen said.

He was a controversial figure because of his hardline policies on civil protest.

During the Commonwealth Games, Queensland Police had arrested many protesting about the lack of civil rights for indigenous communities.

When the IOC Evaluation Commission visited the city, they were whisked away by helicopter to view facilities. In the promotional material produced by the committee a grid showed that no venue needed more than 30 minutes travel time from the village.

It was planned that the Games would open at the Queen Elizabeth II (QEII Stadium) which had been the centrepiece of the 1982 Commonwealth Games. This was also to stage athletics.

The bid team had addressed the sensitive issue of equine quarantine laws which had prevented the equestrian competition taking place at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. It was eventually held in Stockholm.

"Quarantine regulations have been reviewed to better allow international competition," said the bid.

Dressage, eventing and jumping were projected for 200 hectares of bushland near the newly built Cannon Hill Equestrian Centre.

Most of the other events were planned for two major developments. The Chandler complex widely used for the 1982 Commonwealth Games and at Boondall was also to be the location of the Olympic Village.

Boxing, football and tennis were amongst city centre sports.

As part of Brisbane's bid for the 2032 Olympics, it pledged to use the QEII Stadium, which hosted athletics at the 1982 Commonwealth Games, as one of the venues ©Getty Images
As part of Brisbane's bid for the 2032 Olympics, it pledged to use the QEII Stadium, which hosted athletics at the 1982 Commonwealth Games, as one of the venues ©Getty Images

Brisbane’s bidders claimed there were 50,000 hotel beds including "five star hotels in the city and luxurious tourist accommodation by the sea at the famous Gold Coast."

In the days before Airbnb became an IOC sponsor, Brisbane claimed that their hotel rooms "will be supplemented by an extensive home hospitality programme, which was run very successfully during the 1982 Commonwealth Games.

"It will extend the concept of a friendly Games and it will be fully supported by Brisbane families."

John Brown, Minister for Sport and Tourism at the time said: "Our international image has been greatly enhanced by successes in the sporting arena and our capacity to organise international sporting events." 

The Olympic contest among no fewer than six contending cities was fierce, all the way to the final vote. This was taken at Lausanne’s Palais de Beaulieu in October 1986. Brisbane survived to the third and final round but lost out to the eventual winners Barcelona.

At the time, there were many observers who felt that it had been considered as the unofficial "preferred" candidate because it was the home city of IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch.

Although the IOC’s Future Host Commission says it "gave the opportunity of a presentation and a discussion to the interested parties in the continuous dialogue" some have been critical of the decision to nominate Brisbane Gold Coast for 2032 without a vote.

Budapest, Delhi, Doha, Germany’s Ruhr Valley and Indonesia all had Olympic ambitions and at one stage after Pyeongchang 2018, there were even hints of a joint North and South Korean bid.

Although many will see the confirmation of Brisbane 2032 as little more than a "coronation", the selection of a preferred candidate, even if not identified as such, is rather more common than might be imagined.

At the heart of the intrigue in the early years was Baron Pierre de Coubertin himself.

When he called his famous conference at the Sorbonne in 1894, he had planned that Paris should launch the first Modern Games in 1900 to mark the onset of a new century.

This particular grand design came to nothing, because the Greek representative at the meeting, one Dimitrios Vikelas called for the Games to be given to Athens.

Rhein Ruhr was one of a host of other candidates that presented its case to host the 2032 Olympics ©Getty Images
Rhein Ruhr was one of a host of other candidates that presented its case to host the 2032 Olympics ©Getty Images

"I claimed Greece’s right with regard to the re-establishment of a Greek institution," he said.

"As Victor Hugo put it, the whole civilised world has a common grandmother in ancient Greece but we have her as a mother."

The decision was made essentially by "acclamation" and the first Olympiad fixed for 1896.

This did not please Hungarian Ferenc Kemeny, another founder member of the IOC, who wanted Budapest to be the first modern Olympic city.

As it emerged that there was opposition growing to the Games in Athens, largely on financial grounds, the Hungarians made sure de Coubertin was aware of their continued interest.

In de Coubertin’s memoirs, he recalls how Count Czaky, a leading Hungarian statesman "had Kemény sound me out when everything seemed to be going wrong in Athens. Why not inaugurate the Olympic Games in Budapest?

"I took good care not to repulse these offers, but contented myself with using them to spur on the Greeks."

De Coubertin freely admitted that he needed "elbow room" in the early years to shape the Olympic Movement and many decisions were made by gentlemen’s agreement.

All IOC members were men in those days.

In 1904, the IOC had the host city for 1908 to think about when they gathered in London. Germany’s Willibald Gebhardt withdrew Berlin to give a clear run to Rome when it had no doubt become clear where de Coubertin’s sympathies lay. 

He described the prospect of Roman Olympics as a "sumptuous toga." In fact they never took place as planned and London stepped in to host what were known as the Games of the fourth Olympiad.

In 1909 the IOC gathered in Berlin where they were to select the host city for 1912. De Coubertin was still stung by what he described as "the regrettable episode in the case of Rome, which first undertook the task of arranging the Games of 1908 and then took back its promise."

He told his fellow IOC members: "We can expect a unanimous vote in favour of Stockholm, but only on the express condition that Sweden will give an explicit declaration that we need not have any doubts in the matter."

In fact de Coubertin admitted later that: "Actually, the choice of the Swedish capital had been practically decided on in London the previous year."

The last Olympics to be held in Australia was the Summer Games of Sydney 2000 ©Getty Images
The last Olympics to be held in Australia was the Summer Games of Sydney 2000 ©Getty Images

The only reason that a vote had not been made there and then was because the IOC decided that "only after the closure of the fourth Olympiad would any decision on the fifth be made."

As it turned out the 1912 Stockholm Games proved the most successful there had yet been.

Two years later war came to stall the Olympic Movement.

The immediate post war years had brought a Spanish flu pandemic and Antwerp’s 1920 Olympics had been fraught with financial problems.

When the IOC gathered in Lausanne 100 years ago de Coubertin was looking towards his own retirement after nearly a quarter of a century at the helm.

He told his colleagues "at this moment when the reviver of the Olympics judges his personal task to be nearly at an end, no one will deny that he is entitled to ask a personal gesture should be made in favour of his native city. I shall appeal to you to sacrifice your preferences and your national interests."

"It was morally impossible to refuse what I was asking," he reflected later.

At the Session, it wasn’t de Coubertin who did the asking. Instead a carefully primed Jiri Guth Jarkovsky, the member in Bohemia, (part of what is now the Czech Republic) was to make the formal proposal.

When the decision was approved, he described it as a "masterly coup d’etat," though the decision went down badly with the Italians who had hoped Rome would be chosen. 

Reuters News Agency had reported that the Italians had "many backers."

IOC member Carlo Montu had "reacted with some force" and a few members suggested that it was against rules.

The concern to secure the future was also paramount in 1945. It was only a few days after hostilities had ceased in the Far East that the Welsh peer Lord Aberdare welcomed acting IOC President Sigfrid Edstrom and Avery Brundage to London for what was then described as the "Executive Committee."

They agreed that it was important that the Olympics be resumed as soon as possible which meant 1948.

London was one of a number of cities interested in staging the Games with many from the United States of America.

With travel then difficult, a postal vote was organised. The voting form was a docket which resembled a permission slip for a school outing.

The hosts of the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics, Paris and Los Angeles respectively, were jointly announced at the 131st IOC Session in Lima ©Getty Images
The hosts of the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics, Paris and Los Angeles respectively, were jointly announced at the 131st IOC Session in Lima ©Getty Images

The correspondence enclosed with the voting paper hinted heavily that the Executive Commission recommended choosing London which duly became Olympic host city.

Amongst those passed over had been the city of Los Angeles. It had staged the Games in 1932 when it wasn’t so much the preferred candidate but the only candidate.

In 1923 IOC member William May Garland formally suggested that the United States should host the Games.

His colleagues unanimously and enthusiastically gave a rising vote of endorsement to the suggestion.

After the 1932 Games, Los Angeles made it clear that they craved the Olympic return.

After two unsuccessful bids in the early seventies, the city was the only candidate for the 1984 Games after Tehran withdrew from the running.

By a curious twist of fate, Los Angeles was also involved when in 2017, the IOC agreed in Lima to a joint award.

A statement said that "in principle" the 2024 and 2028 Games would be awarded to Paris and Los Angeles at the same time in what was described as "a win-win-win" by Bach who viewed both cities and the IOC as beneficiaries.

Paris and Los Angeles had originally been rivals in the race for 2024.

An IOC statement said this was "recognising the exceptional circumstances and unique opportunities presented."

In February this year, Brisbane were invited to a "targeted dialogue." This is a phrase from Agenda 2020, the reform document produced by IOC President Bach.

The IOC Executive Board formally proposed the city at their meeting in June and the official approval is to be made by a full Session of the IOC.

The moment when the result is announced has been described as "potentially of monumental significance for Queensland" by Queensland Sports Minister Stirling Hinchliffe.

At least Brisbane is only one hour ahead of Tokyo so any celebrations will not be in the middle of the night as was the case in 1993 when Sydney were confirmed as hosts for the Millennium Olympics.