IPSWICH’S hopes of staging an event at the 2032 Brisbane Games is resting precariously on the ability of the modern pentathlon’s governing body as it tries to win back a place on the Olympic schedule.
The Lions AFL club’s centre of excellence at Springfield was named as the 2032 venue for the modern pentathlon only to watch on nervously as the event was removed from both the 2024 and 2028 Olympic schedules.
The sport was thrown into chaos at the Tokyo Olympics when a German coach was ejected from the Games for punching a horse which had been refusing to jump during the show jumping portion of the event.
Following backlash from animal welfare groups and revelations about the sport’s history of neglecting animal welfare, the sport’s governing body, the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), opted to remove horse riding from the sport from 2024 onwards and replace it with a different, as yet undecided, discipline.
Athletes hit out at the decision, with more than 600 signing a motion of no confidence against the UIPM’s leadership, insisting that removing riding without naming a suitable replacement discipline could result in the sport losing its Olympic status.
The UIPM did not heed the warnings and late last year this stance resulted in modern pentathlon being cut from the preliminary list of sports to be included at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
It had already been cut from the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, Thomas Bach, has now put the sport on notice that it needs to make major changes if it’s ever to be included in the Olympics again.
“Modern Pentathlon must finalize its proposal for the replacement of horse riding and demonstrate a significant reduction in cost and complexity and show improvements in safety, accessibility, universality and appeal for youth,” said IOC president Thomas Bach.
Despite the blow to Ipswich’s one hosting opportunity, Mayor Teresa Harding, still spoke confidently about the Lion’s Centre getting a Brisbane Games event.
Speaking at the Ipswich 2032 Legacy Summit on Friday she said Ipswich has been named as a venue host and it is still “locked in”.
More than 100 business leaders, sports officials, local athletes and key council staff attended the forum which was called to look at Olympic opportunities for the region.
While hosting an event would bring world-wide focus to Ipswich the district’s businesses also have a great opportunity to cash in.
Former Brisbane mayor, Graham Quirk, who was instrumental in Brisbane getting the Games, spoke about the huge visitor numbers that would attend and the opportunities that will exist for Ipswich based companies.
He also said there was still a major need for four and five star hotels even though 25 had been built in the Brisbane CBD since his council abolished all infrastructure charges in a bid to encourage developers to invest.
“Pre-training facilities are now required rather than event centres that could host a gold medal event,” he said.
Mr Quirk encouraged the assembly of mayors in 2015 to get behind the Brisbane bid and said while some councils such as the Gold Coast and Townsville baulked at the idea Ipswich had always been a supporter.
Ipswich residents will also be encouraged to join the Brisbane Olympics Volunteer program with more than 50,000 required.