Address to the International Olympic Committee (IOC)

21 Jul 2021
Canberra, ACT
Prime Minister
Check against delivery, E&OE

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you John and thank you for your great service. President Bach, and Members of the International Olympic Committee. I’m speaking to you from Australia and it’s our tradition in Australia – when we gather together – to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of our land.

It reminds us of the timelessness of our land.

And it helps us understand the arc of history, and that we must care for each other and care for our country as our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have done for so long.

So I acknowledge Australia’s Indigenous peoples – as well as the first nation peoples amongst all nations – and I pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Today, I’m honoured to be speaking to you as Prime Minister of Australia, but also as Chair of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Candidature Leadership Group.

I speak to you on behalf of 25 million sports loving Australians.

With the wholehearted support of all three levels of government – and all sides of politics.

We know what it takes to deliver a successful games – that’s why I want to pay tribute to everyone who has worked so hard to bring together the Tokyo Games.

These have been terribly uncertain times for the whole world.

We all know of the health and economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, that continues to this day.

Though we’ve been separated and distanced, we’ve worked together, as John was just saying, to respond to this global challenge.

Friday’s Opening Ceremony will be another step in humanity’s shared journey back.

It’s been a huge effort to get there.

Many sacrifices have been made – by the athletes and their families, coaches and support staff, as well as the Games organisers, of course – and the people of Japan.

So I offer my warmest congratulations to of course, Prime Minister Suga, and of course the Tokyo Organising Committee, the Japanese Government and the City of Tokyo as well as the International Olympic Committee.

Yes, these games are different.

But they are a Games that will say to history: despite setbacks, despite obstacles, we persevered.

I’m proud to say that more than 480 Australian athletes are in Tokyo.

For the first time ever, women make up over half of the Australian team.

And there are a record number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes.

New Wimbledon champ – Ash Barty is one.

Basketballer Patty Mills is another.

And Patty will be the first Indigenous Australian to carry our national flag at the Opening Ceremony.

And he’ll be joined by four-time Olympian Cate Campbell – the first female swimmer to receive this honour for Australia.

And in August, some 180 Australian paralympians will make their own history in Tokyo.

Australians everywhere are looking forward to the moment the cauldron is lit.

No matter the hour, we’ll be crowded around our screens here in Australia.

Cheering on our athletes – sending our hopes across the oceans.

We’ve always had a special relationship with the Games.

We’ve participated in every modern Summer Olympic Games – one of only two countries in the world to have done so.

As well as every single Paralympic Games.

We’ve hosted the Olympic Games twice before – Melbourne 1956 and Sydney 2000.

The Olympic ethos and values, they resonate Down Under.

We’re an outward looking and welcoming people – one of the most successful multicultural nations on earth.

Australians come together from nearly 200 countries.

We have over 300 different ethnic backgrounds.

And we speak over 300 different languages in our homes.

We’re like a giant-sized Olympic Village – all together!

The Olympic Games are about bringing the world together – and we want to welcome the world to our shores, and share all the things that make this country such a great country.

We’ve got a proud tradition of volunteering, also.

You saw that in Sydney two decades ago.

Seventy-four thousand volunteers. All smiles.

Everyone wanted to contribute – to give rather than to get.

It’s a legacy Australia hopes to build upon in 2032.

My Government is proud to be supporting this opportunity for Brisbane and Southeast Queensland.

The Australian and Queensland governments are fully funding the infrastructure projects to be delivered in preparation for the Games – ensuring they deliver for Brisbane 2032, but also leave a lasting legacy.

We understand the importance of long-term planning.

Should Brisbane be selected today, the 10+10 concept would see us begin our investments immediately – a win–win for the Brisbane region, Southeast Queensland, and the Olympic Games.

My Government has also committed to provide medical services, customs, immigration and a range of other support measures at no cost.

Southeast Queensland is a vibrant and growing part of Australia – with a highly encouraged business community.

Together, with our significant government investment, I know the Brisbane Games will be built on a strong economic foundation.

You can draw confidence from Australia’s track record of delivering major sporting and global events – that the Brisbane Games will be safe and secure in our hands.

As you know, we also take integrity in sport very seriously in Australia.

We believe passionately in a fair go – and provide significant funding and support to organisations that administer integrity programs.

And we have proven governance structures that enable us to work with organisers, international sports federations and governing bodies at major international sporting events.

As a people, we’re guided by an abiding belief in human dignity.

Our belief in human rights will be reflected in the Brisbane Games’ sustainability, sourcing and workforce strategies.

Our hope is that the benefits of the Games will extend beyond Australia.

We have a special affinity with the many nations of Oceania.

They are our Pacific family.

We’re currently providing vaccines, working alongside them, in so many of these nations right now.

And hosting the 2032 Games would provide a foundation to expand programs that provide sporting opportunities for their peoples. And with new technology and digitisation, the young athletes of Oceania will experience opportunities never imagined previously.

Finally, we’re committed to taking the Paralympics to the next level.

We believe in the grit, strength, determination and skill of our Paralympians – and removing the barriers that hinder participation in sport.

It wasn’t only Ash Barty who won at Wimbledon, Dylan Alcott – a great world and national champion – did too! Again!

Dylan, along with Louise Savage, Kurt Fernley and many others are part of a rich strand in Australia’s sporting tradition. They’re national sporting heroes.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you asked me what it means for Australia to host an Olympic Games, I can answer by recalling two moments – both from my own home city of Sydney in the Year 2000.

These are moments in those games that really live on in all Australians.

The first was the night of the women’s 400 metre final.

110,000 people in that Olympic Stadium.

And there she was, Cathy Freeman, heading down the straight – with the wind at her back.

In the stadium that night – and in every street, suburb and town in Australia – you could hear the roar of 60,000 years of history.

It was the most watched sporting event in Australian television history.

That night Cathy carried us all.

She brought us together.

The heart, the soul and the cause of reconciliation advanced a generation – in a single night!

That’s what the Olympics can do.

And there was another moment.

Quite different.

The Australian walker Jane Saville.

She was in the lead in the 20km walk.

Almost an hour and a half into the race and with less than 300 metres to go.

She was approaching the entrance to a packed stadium. Ready to receive cheers. And then she was shown a red card.

Jane – and a nation – heartbroken.

But do you know what she said later? “I felt sorry for the judge”.

What sportsmanship!

What resilience!

Four years later, Jane headed to Athens, and won a bronze medal in the 20km race – Australia’s first women’s Olympic walking medal.

Jane showed a generation of children – and adults too – that when you meet adversity, you dust yourself off, you get back up, and you start walking again.

This week in Tokyo, the world is going to get back up and start walking again. Through these Games.

And if you entrust Brisbane with the Games, I can assure you, we will again walk even further together – in solidarity – reflecting the spirit and the promise of the Olympic Movement – together.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.