The 2032 Olympic Games are still 11 years away, so why is everyone talking about them now?

Updated: Jul 18, 2021


The 2032 Olympic Games are still 11 years away, so why is everyone talking about them now?

– J.M. Keynes

Our CEOs Response:

Dear Mr Keynes,

Thank you for your question. It’s one I’ve heard a few times since Brisbane was confirmed as the 2032 Olympics frontrunner. Eleven years may seem like a long time but trust me Mr Keynes, eleven minutes can feel like an eternity if you’re holding a plank position at the gym!

It got me thinking, to become an Olympic athlete (hypothetically of course) how long would it take me to prepare? According to research from the 2012 London Olympics, athletes spend on average, 11 years working towards and preparing for an Olympics. Interesting 🤔 If it takes an athlete that long to prepare, then how long might it take for a hopeful city to prepare for and host one of the biggest events on the planet?

But the strategist in me wonders, is there a more beautiful question we could be asking. Perhaps the question is not whether we should be talking about it now, but instead: What is the required transformation for our city, to prepare for this event?

We’ve seen the 2028 Olympics awarded to Los Angeles on the foundations that no publicly funded venues will be constructed to host the Games. No doubt, this is to confront the Olympic legacy of 'limping white elephant infrastructure’ which can almost bankrupt a host city. It’s also a clear sign of a new Olympic era.

Over recent years, the evolution of strategy and framework within the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has pioneered a complete shift in paradigm with cities now required to respond to the question of what hosting a Games can do for a city, rather than what a city can do for the Games.

This has flipped the Olympic conversation on its head. It’s no longer solely a bidding process, rather, an intimate courtship where cities are asked to articulate their long-term ambitions and demonstrate how the Games can contribute to that vision.

And we know that Brisbane is the only remaining city currently negotiating hosting in 2032 – or we should say, the only city being courted. So, what is the opportunity for us to all achieve? And how do we keep the momentum?

Well Mr Keynes, this takes us back to the reason why everyone IS talking about the Olympics when it’s still 11 years away…

When my company, Luminair was invited by State Government to identify and evaluate the potential pathways for optimised social, economic and environmental uplift as a result of the Olympics (within a specific portfolio) our analysis included learnings from every Olympic Games dating back 20 years and also those which are yet to occur. At the conclusion of the analysis, Luminair submitted the recommended pathway to optimisation, our rationale, our formulas and forecasts pertaining to the potential economic uplift for our tasked portfolio. Our work was assessed by statisticians, economists and one of the “big four”, and it has since been published ‘as is’ in the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games: Value Proposition Assessment. So fair to say, we have a pretty good handle on this stuff.

Remembering the elite athlete from earlier, we know that, “prior preparation prevents poor performance.” However, my answer as a strategist is for two key reasons:

  1. Announcing our Olympic ambition carries genuine currency. From a trade and investment perspective, there is a flow-on that all Olympic hopefuls benefit from, called the ‘the signalling effect’. This describes the resulting uplift (across credibility, awareness and economic benefit) that follows the announcement of a potential Olympic candidature. It is one of the key reasons why a Value Proposition published by the Queensland Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) considered the social, economic and environmental values (triple bottom-line) of the Olympics in the period ten years prior to and post of the proposed Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games.

  2. Mega events can be a strategic vehicle …if we keep our hands on the steering wheel and move in the right direction. The fact that events are a key driver for tourism visitation is internationally recognised and irrefutable. Beyond events as a trigger for visitation, tourism and extended stays; there is a broader opportunity for mega events such as the Olympics to be leveraged for the benefit of inward/outward trade. This involves capitalising on future demand by creating fast-tracked and commercialisation platforms in the lead-up to a Games for hallmarked future and emerging Queensland industries. Examples of these industries include renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, bio futures, circular economies, education, advanced agriculture and bio-tech.

To put this into context, Luminair’s work contained within the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games: Value Proposition Assessment identified a potential Games-induced uplift in trade exports of up to $8.63 billion in the ten years leading up to, and ten years following the 2032 Olympic Games. However, planning is key, and it must start 11-12 years out.

Failure to appropriately plan strategically for an Olympics could result in the ‘intermezzo effect’ for mega events. It is likened to a failure to launch, or where an opportunity (which is literally of Olympic proportions) is not proactively activated or is activated too late. Future industries are not intertwined into platform programs for uplift, impact funding is leaked out of the localised economy and the city is left as a shell of the benefit that could have been created for people, planet and prosperity.

Ultimately, the Games have changed; and it’s time for our conversations to change too.

The new approach is focused on long-term sustainability, equips host cities with a plan and vision to achieve long-term success…however it is imperative to identify and build this strategic framework.

Now my question to you Mr Keynes, with the Olympics being 11 years away and in preparation for perhaps Queensland’s most ambitious mega event…how can we afford for the Olympics not to be the primary point of discussion, today?

Are you ready to lace-up your strategic trainers and step onto the track to create sustainable and worthwhile legacies? If so, Luminair is ready to help shape and ignite the strategy.

In the spirit of consultation, collaboration & innovation,

– Stefanie Wilson



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