Hula’s Talks: Australian sports presenter David Lutteral says Brisbane in 2032 “ticks all the boxes”

Around the Rings editor emeritus Ed Hula’s exclusive in-depth conversations with stakeholders from all parts of the Olympic movement

Olympics - 138th IOC Session - Hotel Okura, Tokyo, Japan - July 21, 2021 President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach announces Brisbane as the 2032 Summer Olympics host city during the 138th IOC Session Pool via REUTERS/Toru Hanai
Olympics - 138th IOC Session - Hotel Okura, Tokyo, Japan - July 21, 2021 President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach announces Brisbane as the 2032 Summer Olympics host city during the 138th IOC Session Pool via REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Brisbane-based radio presenter and rugby sevens commentator at Tokyo David Lutteral believes that Brisbane is an optimal choice for the 2032 Summer Olympics, and that while concerns about the high cost of the Games exist among Australians, they can be reasonably addressed.

In a ‘Tokyo Today’ podcast interview with Around the Rings founder Ed Hula, Lutteral expressed his belief that the Games could hardly have found a better host.

“I believe that a city of a certain size makes a perfect major event – Olympics or World Athletics Championships or whatever it might be. I think the weather and the conditions for the athletes are critical. I think the financial benefits for the government and the key stakeholders in the Olympics are critical. Obviously the location and what it offers for potential tourism is a huge benefit. And I think in every single way Brisbane and Southeast Queensland ticks that box.”

Brisbane, Australia (IOC)
Brisbane, Australia (IOC)

“I genuinely think it’ll make Brisbane one of the real outstanding places in the world to live over the next decade because it’s still a city on the rise”, he said, referencing Brisbane’s relatively low but rising international profile. “Sydney was already a [major] destination. Or if you hadn’t been to London before the Olympics, you probably wouldn’t go because the Olympics were there.”

Remarking on the controversy surrounding the hosting of the Games in Japan, where polls have shown around 80% of the population opposes the Tokyo Games taking place, Lutteral believes the Games in Brisbane will not have such issues.

“As you know, the first thing that people balk at with an Olympic bid is that this is going to cost us billions of dollars. It’s going to put us all in massive debt and it’s going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money. What are the benefits? In Tokyo you can see that people on the streets are saying ‘look, we’re paying for this and we can’t even buy a ticket to go watch the damn thing.’”

“With Brisbane, the numbers they have been able to throw out to the public, it’s with the IOC’s new direction of using existing infrastructure and relying on a less expensive bid process. It’s going to be a $5-6 billion Games as opposed to a $30-40 billion Games. So in that regard, it’s fairly easy to counter the negative criticism that’s usually garnered from an Olympic bid process”.

Audits from the Japanese government have shown that this year’s Olympics have cost upwards of $25 billion, more than triple the original price tag.

The role of announcers changes for Tokyo

Lutteral, who will be a stadium announcer for the rugby sevens competitions, also talked about how his role at the spectator-less Games has become more focused on supporting TV broadcasts and creating an atmosphere for the athletes, which he confirmed is quite lacking.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Rugby Sevens - Men - Pool A - New Zealand v Australia - Tokyo Stadium - Tokyo, Japan - July 27, 2021. Australia players and New Zealand players enter the pitch. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Rugby Sevens - Men - Pool A - New Zealand v Australia - Tokyo Stadium - Tokyo, Japan - July 27, 2021. Australia players and New Zealand players enter the pitch. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

“I would not say that there’s been an overwhelming Olympic feeling about being in Tokyo. You walk around the streets with a feeling that honestly, the Olympics may not even be on”, Luttrell said.

“They were showing a live feed outside the Olympic Stadium and about 1,000 fans across the street from a heavily guarded police barricade with their flags were trying to get a piece of the spirit of the Opening Ceremony. But within an hour, that spirit had been overcome by about 3,000 protesters, with signs saying “This is a fraud” and “Why are we doing this? It’s costing us billions of dollars and these Games shouldn’t be going ahead”. So the feeling here is a little benign, but also obviously a little bit negative as well.”

Asked about how he thought conditions in Tokyo would affect athletes’ performances, Luttrell surmised that while some may have benefited from the year off in particular, others were either pushed into retirement or “lost the faith” in the process.

“I think we’re going to see results go either way here in Tokyo. You’re going to see some magnificent world beating performances from athletes, perhaps that we didn’t expect, then we’re going to see others drop away as well.”

As the Games start to take shape, Luttrell is therefore mindful of the challenges those covering the Games currently face; not just in providing a worthwhile fan experience, but also a sense of motivation and accomplishment for Olympians having to compete in front of empty stands.

“We saw some success stories. We saw the International Swimming League which was performing in front of no crowds and the broadcasters were able to focus the energy and the excitement and the lighting on the pool and away from the crowds and create atmosphere within that realm. And that’s the challenge that every venue and broadcaster faces here in Tokyo. Can they create an atmosphere which is worthy of an Olympic Games, or are we going to be watching a rather dull, sort of, performance area?”

“I know I was watching softball the other day – you get a real sense of the closeness of it. You can hear the two teams cheering as opposed to where you usually hear a stadium cheering, but it’s certainly a different energy. Whether athletes can embrace that and make the most of it will be interesting to see.”