Liam Morgan

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach's press conference after a meeting with a delegation from Australia this week would have been music to the ears of those hoping Queensland secures the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Words such as "impressed” and "confident" were never far from the lips of the IOC President, who has taken every possible opportunity in the past six months or so to talk up Queensland's potential bid.

Bach was hardly going to criticise the project presented by officials from the Australian state – he is a politician after all and his aim is to make sure Queensland's interest becomes a formal bid – but his rhetoric was telling.

When asked if there were any sticking points or issues with the plans put forward by Queensland, Bach could not wait to reply with a simple "no".

The IOC President also claimed Queensland's level of "preparedness" 13 years out from the Games was unexpected and said the region had "all the ingredients" for a successful candidature.

Again, he is not going to dissuade anyone from bidding, but his tone and language only adds merit to a growing belief that the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in Australia.

The signs are there and the writing is getting closer to the wall. It is not a stretch to draw comparisons between the IOC's double award of the 2024 and 2028 Olympics and Paralympics to Paris and Los Angeles, respectively, where the direction the organisation was heading in under Bach was made clear as soon as the idea became feasible.

The same can be said for the 2032 Games. The level of engagement and dialogue, to coin the IOC's preferred phrases, with Queensland is not dissimilar to the talks the IOC held with Paris and Los Angeles in the months leading up to the double allocation.

A delegation from Australia visited the IOC for talks about a possible 2032 bid this week ©IOC
A delegation from Australia visited the IOC for talks about a possible 2032 bid this week ©IOC

Tuesday's (September 10) meeting in Lausanne also marked the third time Bach had held high-level talks with Queensland or Australian officials in four months.

The IOC President visited Brisbane and Gold Coast in May and met with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison during July's G20 Summit in Japan, where the possible Olympic bid was almost certainly discussed.

Inviting the Queensland delegation to the Olympic capital to discuss a potential candidature is significant in itself. The IOC would surely not go to all this trouble if it did not consider the Australian state a serious contender, particularly given the drive to slash costs from every part of the bidding process.

Such a meeting is hardly the norm for cities interested in bidding for the Olympic Games, a fact even Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk hinted at upon her arrival at Geneva Airport on Monday (September 9).

But they are likely to become far more regular in future under reforms to the process, rubber-stamped by the IOC Session in June, and following the IOC initiating what it calls the "dialogue stage" with potential hosts.

Few cities or regions have enjoyed the level of dialogue with the IOC as Queensland, a trend set to continue before the Australian state inevitably launches a formal bid for the 2032 Games.

IOC President Thomas Bach was full of praise for Queensland following the meeting at Olympic House ©IOC
IOC President Thomas Bach was full of praise for Queensland following the meeting at Olympic House ©IOC

Queensland officials will be among the first to work with the IOC's new Future Host Commission – an all-powerful group with considerable sway in deciding where the Olympic Games are held – as part of the process, revamped in response to a declining number of bidders.

Interestingly, the reforms which the IOC refer to with almost robotic regularity were spearheaded by Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates, one of Bach's most trusted lieutenants.

It is not difficult to see the potential conflict here; a man who oversaw significant changes to the way the IOC selects and awards the Olympic Games is heavily involved in the first bid which could benefit from those very changes.

The IOC meeting with the Australian delegation and subsequent quotes from Bach are indicative of how the organisation will handle Olympic bids from here on in, and it felt like the first step towards the IOC fast-tracking a procedure which will eventually see Queensland awarded the Games in the not too distant future.

For the IOC, the Australian state already represents a viable and desirable option, even 13 years out from 2032.

If you believe the "united front" being presented by the Australians, the candidacy from Queensland is unlikely to be derailed by political problems which have curtailed other Olympic candidatures in recent years, while a claim from Palaszczuk that the region already has 85 per cent of the required venues ticks one of Bach's most prominent boxes.

Finances should also not be a problem. Queensland is thought to have invested at least AUD$1.5 billion (£835 million/$1 billion/€935 million) in last year's Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, the staging of which seemingly laid the foundation for the potential Olympic bid and certainly became the trigger for it.

However, it will not be plain sailing should Queensland choose to formally throw its hat into the ring.

Officials, including Coates, have warned significant upgrades to the transport system are required, while discussions on whether the region should build a brand-new 80,000 stadium will be watched with a close eye by the IOC, which is sternly warning against cities overspending on infrastructure.

You can also never ignore public opposition. A recent poll suggested a majority of Queenslanders are in favour – but they don't yet know how much it might cost them.

For Queensland, it seemingly has a golden opportunity to become the third Australian host of the Games, and the first since Sydney 2000.

Yes, other countries have expressed an interest – mainly India and Indonesia, while the whispers of an ambitious joint North-South Korean bid have died down in recent months – but few seem as advanced as Queensland.

"It is fair to say that this project has all the ingredients to become a successful candidature," Bach said.

"The ball is in your court to digest this information and see what it means for you and then to take a sound decision."

It will be interesting to see whether the IOC flings open the doors of its lavish new headquarters to Indian and Indonesian delegations.

Bach, however, seemed to suggest this might be a fruitless exercise for the two countries. He hinted that if Queensland does come to the table, it is their race to lose.

The IOC President's final contribution at the press conference was also telling. Bach confirmed what has been clear for a while – that the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic host will be named far sooner than 2025, an eventuality made possible by reforms and changes to the Olympic Charter, which did away with the requirement for a Games to be awarded seven years prior.

Not only that, but Bach essentially told his visitors that the quicker the project is honed and refined, the earlier Queensland can be named as the host.

The Australian delegation present a united front ©IOC
The Australian delegation present a united front ©IOC

"We cannot give a deadline [on when 2032 will be awarded] but it will be very much in the hands of you in how fast the project is developed," Bach added.

"What I can say with some confidence is that we will not wait until 2025, but we will take a decision once the projects are mature and we can have full confidence.

"I am more confident than before that this will not last until 2025."

Get the ticker tape ready Aussies – the Olympic circus seems to be yours if you want it.