The Olympic movement must still deal with corruption that threatens its games, writes Ivan Fischer, with Brisbane looking like following in the footsteps of Sydney, Salt Lake City and others in facing accusations of dodgy dealings.

Moscow, Beijing and Riyadh and others have faced various accusations of sports washing in the past decade as the hosted large scale sports events. It's a convenient narrative which obstructs the most serious issue confronting such events – corruption.

For the countries in the West, hosting mega sporting events provide a smokescreen to fast track large construction projects. The stadiums and other infrastructure associated with these temporary building booms are sold as necessary for hosting the games in question. This is the real sports washing, and it is a global phenomenon. According to international statistics, only the extractive industry is more corrupt than the construction sector.

Furthermore, since large scale sporting events have a firm deadline, there is even more incentive to spend the money and worry about the consequences later. Officially the 2020 Tokyo Olympics cost $13.6 billion. Although government officials suggest that internal audits suggest the price tag may have been far higher. This is one of the world's most transparent countries. Some 60 per cent of the spending for the games was public money.

Some of these concerns exist before ground is broken on any new stadium. Or perhaps we have forgotten the scandals over the awarding of the 2000 Olympics to Sydney and the 2002 Winter Olympics to Salt Lake City. While the IOC has taken great steps since then to improve the process with those scandals – seemingly forgotten from the public memory – new examples have emerged. Take a look at the example of the selection of Brisbane as the host of the next Olympics. It was awarded in a fast-track process that took place "behind closed doors." It has also been called "opaque" as the IOC does not publicly announce who the candidates are. A process that at best is a serious lack of transparency and, at worst, is more than open to allegations of potential corruption. At stake is the potential to discredit the "Brisbane 2032 Olympics" long before any torch has been lit.

Paolo Fusi, director of research at the Democracy Centre for Transparency and CEO of IBI World Ltd has researched Australia's Olympic bid. He has noted the lack of transparency and integrity in their pursuit to obtain 2032 Olympics. According to Fusi, John Coates, outgoing president of the Australian National Olympic Committee and the vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, has a bad "record" and lack of integrity which he himself confessed to "buying" the Olympics for Australia before. Thus, Australia should be dropped immediately as a candidate host for the games.

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The circumstances under which Australia obtained the Olympics however is an open secret.

At the centre of this intrigue is John Coates. In extracts from a recently discovered hour-long interview in 2008, Coates revealed that he offered payments to two African National Olympic Committees who were represented on the IOC panel in exchange for their votes in 1993 for the awarding of the 2000 Olympics. At the time, such payments were not against IOC rules but contributed to the controversy over Sydney's winning bid. It also raise questions about the process in which Brisbane rose to win the 2032 Summer Olympics. Recall, the former head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee recently received a jail sentence for vote buying in relation to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Coates said "to a large extent" that Sydney was awarded the summer Olympic Games in 2000 because it "bought the Games". Coates has drawn controversy of late for his public strong-arming of female politicians and for drafting a letter of praise – for himself.

If Brisbane does host the games, there is fear that brand-new stadiums built will become "White Elephants" with little use after the fame and glory of the games are gone. The Brisbane metropolitan area is home to less than three million people. The city recently saw the Commonwealth Games hosted on the nearby Gold Coast in 2018; why could infrastructure there not be 'recycled' for the Brisbane games?

In fact, sports events allow elites and insiders numerous opportunities to win lucrative contracts, great and small, in the hosting of the Olympics. In Brisbane, with the Olympics more than ten years away, the local parliament passed a bill late last year allowing Olympic contractors exemptions from some local transparency laws in the development of the games. The spending on the Brisbane Olympics will amount to nearly $4 billion, with some of that financing coming from international organisations, according to media reports. A Tokyo sized level of spending in a much smaller city.

Watchdogs should follow the money, especially as the 2030 Winter Olympics have yet to be awarded with several cities including those in North America interested. Despite the controversy of 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, the city is lobbying to host the 2030 edition as well. Thus it is not just the games we should be watching in Brisbane. It is the standard which future games will be held to.

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