2000 Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games Power Brokers: Why to Expect Many Changes in 2032 Brisbane’s Journey

By Greg Blood

It is just over ten years until the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brisbane and South East Queensland. If the 2000 Sydney Games are any guide, there will be significant turnover of political and administrative power brokers over this period. Documented are the power broker changes during the lead up – 1993 to 2000 – to the Sydney Games.

My interest is the likely impact of power broker changes on the organisation and politics of the 2032 Games.

Sydney won the right to host the 2000 Olympic Games and subsequently the Paralympic Games on 23 September 1993. The successful Bid was supported by the Federal Labor Keating Government and State Fahey Liberal/National Government. Both government’s lost office within a few years of the announcement – Keating Government was replaced by Howard Coalition Government in 1996 and Fahey Government by Carr Labor Government in 1995. These changes in government did not have a substantial impact on the commitment to the Games but did bring into play new political power brokers.

From a Federal Government perspective, the Howard Government continued to support the six year Olympic and Paralympic Program (OAP/PAP) – $140m – implemented by the Keating Government in 1994 after strong lobbying from John Coates. (Ref 1) There were six Federal Ministers for Sport during the period but this did not have a major impact due to the OAP/PAP already in place. The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) leadership was relatively stable and a key ingredient was that ASC CEO Jim Ferguson remained in the position for the six years leading to the Games.

After the fall of the Fahey NSW Government in 1995, the Carr Government and Minister for the Olympics Michael Knight were in place for the five years leading to the Games. Knight also became the President of the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) in 1996. This led to a high level of stability at the state level which predominantly managed the organisation and infrastructure of the Games.

SOCOG established by NSW Government did have a rocky road particularly in the early years with changes in Presidents and CEOs. However, the ‘rocks’ that held the organisation of the Games together to me were Bob Elphinston, the SOCOG Director of Sport and David Richmond, CEO of Olympic Co-Ordination Authority, who persevered through all the controversies along the way to providing high quality and athlete centred Olympic sports competitions and venues.

The other and probably most significant power broker was John Coates. During this period, he was President of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), Deputy President SOCOG and Deputy Chair of the ASC. Coates was successful in 1996 in the NSW Government paying AOC $60m for surrendering its control of the SOCOG budget and any Games profits. (Ref 2)

It will be interesting to observe the power brokers of the 2032 Games as it will be in many ways a joint venture of the Federal and Queensland Governments. The Federal Government has agreed to fund 50% of the infrastructure of the Games. Due to this funding level, it will expect to have significant influence in “the planning, the scoping of venues, the procurement, the contracts, the appointments, whether it’s to the organising committee, the establishment of the co-ordination authority”. (Ref 3 ) It is highy likely there will be changes in Federal and State Governments over the next ten years.

The ASC is currently seeking a new CEO – will the successful applicant occupy the position most of the 2032 Brisbane journey ? Will the AOC and Paralympics Australia have leaders of the calibre of John Coates and Greg Hartung to ensure the Games meet the expectations of the Olympic and Paralympic movements ?

In conclusion, the ten year lead up and 50-50 Federal/Queensland Government relationship will most likely lead to a high turnover of power brokers and instability at times. Hopefully, the 2032 Games will reach and exceed the standard set by the 2000 Sydney Games.

2000 Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games Power Brokers List


International Olympic Committee

  • President – Juan Antonio Samaranch (1980-2001)

International Paralympic Committee

  • President – Robert Steward (1989-2001)


Federal Government

  • Prime Minister/Government – Keating Government (1991-1996), Howard Government (1996-2007)
  • Federal Ministers for Sport – Ros Kelly (1991-1994), Graham Richardson (1994-1995), John Faulkner (1994-1996), Warwick Smith (1996-1997), Andrew Thomson (1997-1998), Jackie Kelly (1998-2001)

Australian Sports Commission

  • Chair – Ted Harris (1984-1994), Mike Fitzpatrick (1994-1997), Peter Bartels (1997-2008)
  • CEO – Jim Ferguson (1990-2001)

Australian Institute of Sport

  • Director – Rob De Castella (1990-1995), John Boultbee (1995-2001)

Australian Olympic Committee

  • President – John Coates (1990- )
  • Secretary-General – Perry Crosswhite (1993-1995), Craig McLatchey (1995-2001)

Australian Paralympic Committee

  • Presidents – Ron Finneran (1993), Bob McCullough (1994-1996), Marie Little (1996-1997), Greg Hartung (1997-2013)
  • CEO – Adrienne Smith (19901-993), Frank Martin (1994-1997), Scott Derwin (1997-1999), Brendan Flynn (1999-2003)


State Government

  • Premier/Government – Fahey Liberal National Government  ( 1992–1995), Carr Labor Government  (1995–2005)

Minister for the Olympics

  • Michael Knight (1995-2001)

Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG)

  • President – Gary Pemberton (1993-1996), John Iiffe (1996-1997), Michael Knight (1996-2000)
  • CEO – Gary Pemberton  (1994-1995), Mal Hemmerling (1995-1997), Sandy Holloway (1997-2001)
  • Director Sport – Bob Elphinston (1994-2000)

Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee (SPOC)

  • President-  Dr John Grant (1994-2000)
  • CEO – Lois Appleby (1994-2000)

Olympic Co-ordination Authority (OCA)

  • CEO – David Richmond (1995 – 2000)


  1. Greg Blood, Revisiting Olympic Athlete Program & Paralympic Preparation Program (1994-2000), 10 March 2021
  2. Greg Blood, The Relationship between the Australian Olympic Committee and the Australian Sports Commission, Sporting Traditions, Sporting Traditions, V35 (1) May 2018
  3. Michael Bleby and Mark Ludlow, Jostling begins over Brisbane’s 2032 Organising Committee, Australian Financial Review, 22 July 2021

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