Supporting Pacific Participation in Olympics 2032
By Tara Vele
The International Olympic Committee on 21 July 2021, selected Brisbane, Australia as the host city for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Brisbane will be the third city in Australia’s history to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Brisbane 2032 Games are projected to generate an estimated $8.1 billion for the Queensland economy.
In light of the Brisbane 2032 host city selection, Pacific Legal Network (PLN) Brisbane had the pleasure of attending the ‘Supporting Pacific Participation in Brisbane Olympics 2032’ on Thursday 16 February 2023; a panel discussion and networking event. The event was hosted by the Australia Fiji Business Council in conjunction with Australian Sports Diplomacy Advisory Council (ASDAC) and Griffith University. The panel was chaired by Stephanie Branz (Chair of the ASDAC) and the panellists included Petero Civoniceva (rugby league legend and former captain of the Fiji and Australia national teams), Moses Rauluni (former Fijian national and international rugby player player), Duncan Free (Australian dual Olympian, gold medallist and two-time world champion) and Caroline Riot (Director, Griffith University - Games Engagement and Partnerships).
The panel discussion centred primarily on sports diplomacy, as a vehicle to facilitate trade and development between Fiji and Brisbane. Petero and Moses in outlining their respective professional backgrounds, each empathized the importance of building ‘pathway’ programs into Australian elite sports. The cross-border movement of Fijian professional athletes, in addition to exposure and improving their individual skills, brought with them the opportunity to exchange culture, views and perspectives. A key development in this area was presented by Petero, with his work in establishing the Kaiviti Silktails. After his National Rugby League career had ended, Petero got work in utilising his high profile and sporting celebrity status to lead a Fijian bid team into a lower tier Australian Rugby League competition. In 2019, with the endorsements of both the New Souths Wales Rugby League and Fiji National Rugby League the semi-professional men’s league team was born. The Silktails took the extraordinary step of establishing the clubs training facilities in Fiji. Under Petero’s watch, the team re-purposed an existing building to build a high-performance training centre. Putting the management in Fijian hands, has given the Lautoka (the location of the facility) community a sense of ownership and pride. The high-performance centre is now the training facility of choice for other professional Fijian and Overseas visiting sporting teams.
Duncan and Caroline alternatively spoke to the Australian funded research and sporting capacity building programs that have delivered in the Pacific region. Duncan took the opportunity to discuss the GAPS (Gather, Adjust, Prepare, Sustain) program. A capacity building program (developed by Griffith University and Commonwealth Games Federation with the support of PacificAusSports) was born out of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, offering emerging Pacific Nations resources and knowledge to capacity build and develop sporting personnel (athletes and administrators) in certain earmarked sports. Caroline, in building on Duncan’s presentation, explained that the early engagement and preparations for The Brisbane 2032 Games, is to get local and international stakeholders to the planning table to deliver the best Olympic and Paralympic Games. Caroline in concluding the panel discussion emphasised that The Brisbane 2032 Games, ‘is not just for Brisbane, but a Games for the Asia Pacific Region’. The Brisbane 2032 Games would be delivered with the goal of addressing the key issues of the APAC region; climate change, cross border development and building stronger (trade, business and sporting) relationships.