Olympics-Swimming Australia pushes for ‘legacy’ home from Brisbane Games

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Swimming Australia (SA) is hoping to leverage the 2032 Olympics to build a “national home” in Brisbane, arguing that the planned temporary pool at the Games will not leave a sufficient legacy for the sport.

SA boss Eugenie Buckley told ABC radio the governing body was in talks with universities, developers and government on the location and design for a national aquatic centre.

“In an ideal world, in our dream, we would love to have a national aquatic centre that is the envy of the world that actually attracts tourists to come to Queensland, to Brisbane, to have a look at the home of swimming,” she said.

“I think it would be beneficial to have a physical legacy because … you can have your general community from learn-to-swim to masters all being able to swim in that Olympic (and) Paralympic pool and being inspired by performances of the Dolphins.”

The “Dolphins” is the nickname of Australia’s national swim team, which won nine gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics, more than half the country’s total of 17.

Organisers are planning to stage the Olympic swimming at a temporary pool in a new entertainment arena to be built near the Brisbane CBD.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said Brisbane did not need a new, permanent swimming venue but did need a live music venue.

“Our plan does involve a major upgrade of the Brisbane Aquatic Centre at Chandler and we’d love if Swimming Australia wanted to make that the home of swimming for all of Australia,” he said.

With the Olympics long criticised for leaving host cities with costly white elephants, the International Olympic Committee has urged organisers to cut Games-specific construction to a minimum and use temporary or existing venues.

The Queensland state government, however, will tear down the 42,000-seat Brisbane Cricket Ground, known as “the Gabba”, and build a new stadium in its place for the 2032 Games at a cost of A$2.7 billion ($1.77 billion).

That is part of a broader A$7 billion funding deal with the federal government announced last month to build and redevelop infrastructure for the Games.

($1 = 1.5216 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Robert Birsel)