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Melbourne’s next Olympic bid and more: opening night of Sport in Victoria conference

Melbourne's next Olympic bid was just one of the major talking points on the opening night of the Sport in Victoria – who's really winning? conference, hosted by Victoria University.

Committee for Melbourne CEO Kate Roffey created a wave of interest in a Melbourne Olympic bid in the lead up to the conference saying, "We should most definitely bid for another Olympics in late 2020's, early 2030's."

"The media interest this morning shows that it is a conversation that people are really interested in," Roffey said, not surprised that the Melbourne bid had sparked a global conversation on Thursday.

"I genuinely believe that we are a city that should host and are very well positioned to host another Olympic Games in due course. Which is, realistically, bidding for an Olympics around the 2028 period. Which is the bid period so from that time there's still 10-12 years. So we are looking at an Olympics around 2036 or 2040," Roffey said.

Earlier in the day Premier Denis Napthine added the government's support to the debate as he vowed to investigate pitching to bring the greatest sporting show on earth back to Melbourne, which hosted the Games in 1956.

Whilst supportive of the concept of a Melbourne bid, Western Bulldogs President Peter Gordon said he wanted to see changes to the bidding process before Melbourne should even contemplate entering the running.

"I actually think it's time for a review of the system by which cities get allocated global sporting events like the Olympics or the World Cup. I think when you look at the sort of corruption which has been endemic to FIFA in particular, but also the IOC, in recent times."

"I don't think Melbourne should bid. I think we should seek a new system in which allocations to cities take place otherwise than by a bidding system but in accordance with a set of equitable principles," Gordon said.

In wide ranging and often frank discussion on the status of sport in Victoria that ranged from expensive high end major events to the lack of physical education in schools and the cost of participation at grassroots clubs, Gordon praised the announcement of international football taking over the MCG in the middle of the AFL season, given the increasing growth of the round-ball game.

At the same time reminding AFL house it was an opportunity to be creative with fixturing as he called for a game to be hosted back at the Bulldogs spiritual home at Whitten Oval, bemoaning the rise of the "theatre goer" in the AFL.

"Soccer for me is, if I don't get thrown out of the AFL community forever for saying this, fits almost every paradigm. It's a global sport, it can be played at a local level, there's a great deal of gender equity on a comparative basis."

"So without my AFL hat on I'm thrilled that they're coming out and I hope to get out to watch it."

"It also, I should say, provides the opportunity for the AFL to be lateral about fixturing. The Whitten Oval's out there without a game played on it for many, many years," Gordon said.

The cost of Melbourne's Formula 1 Grand Prix came under scrutiny from professional golfer and course designer Mike Clayton who firmly believes Melbourne should be hosting an annual golf major.

"You can run one hell of a golf tournament for $50 million," Clayton said as he congratulated the spread of the tennis grand slams.

"Golf has three majors in the US. Why shouldn't one of those be in Australia?"

Other topics raised on the night included Melbourne's positioning in the sporting capital of the world - rated at a lowly 36 on Sportcal's international sporting city rankings.

Day two of the conference kicks-off at 9am Friday, and boasts a impressive list of speakers including Tourism Australia's CEO John O'Sullivan, Australian Sports Commission Chair John Wylie AM, Dean of the College of Sport and Exercise Science at Victoria University Professor Hans Westerbeek, Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott, and CEO of the Melbourne Vicentre Swimming Club Nicole Livingstone.

Off the back of the Essendon and ASADA Federal Court trial, the 11.20am session focussing on sport, drugs ethics and science featuring Chief Football Writer at The Age Caroline Wilson, President of Athletics Australia David Grace QC and Former ASADA Chair Richard Ings, should prove interesting.

The speakers will be talking about a diverse range of topics including:

  • Making Melbourne an Economic Winner in Hosting Big Sporting Events: Lessons from an Economic Model
  • Major Events and The Economic Impact of Sport: Is this a key driver for the economy?
  • Can You Win Fair? Sport, Drugs, Ethics and Science
  • The Way Forward for Victoria Cause and Effect: Elite Sport or Community Participation?
  • Can Victoria get Australia back on the Olympic Gold Medal tally?
  • Lessons from the Conference: Where to from here? Visions for the future.

Hosted Thursday night and Friday at the MCG by Victoria University, the conference is sponsored by the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce with support from Committee for Melbourne and The Age.

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