New Zealand’s double Olympic shot put champion Dame Valerie Adams has urged organisers of the 2032 Olympics and Paralympics in Brisbane to ensure the Games benefit the entire Oceania region and not just Australia.
Dame Valerie attended last month’s Step Up Oceania Conference in Brisbane where she was left feeling “uncomfortable” at the lack of focus on addressing challenges faced across the continent.
The meeting was staged in the week leading up to the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) General Assembly held in the Australian city.
Dame Valerie, who won shot put gold at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, said she was convinced the Games can leave a lasting legacy for Oceania but insisted there needed to be the “right people” in place that understand the region.
“It comes down to people running the show understanding Oceania,” Dame Valerie told The Ticket podcast.
“What I found – I shouldn’t say disturbing, but I was a little bit uncomfortable – that quite a few of the presentations were very Australian based and not really taking into account the challenges that we have in Oceania.
“Also, there was no olive branch given out while they were doing this presentation of ‘this is how we can implement this in Oceania’, or vice-versa.
“I believe it can be done, we are less than 10 years away, but we need the right people to understand our people, the culture, get the buy in, go in and see what is needed.
“There is a big struggle within Oceania to get facilities there to make things work.
“The collaborations are missing the point in my opinion.
“I feel like it’s one talking with their stuff and then the other trying to meet or come up to this level, but it’s never going to happen because the gap is too wide.”
Dame Valerie claimed that the gap between Australia and New Zealand and the rest of the Oceania nations will get wider unless action is not taken now by Brisbane 2032 organisers.
“We all know that the system in Australia and New Zealand is going to be more extravagant,” said the four-time Olympic medallist.
“It’s not the same within Oceania.
“We are all about medals in Australia and New Zealand whereas in the rest of Oceania it is about survival.
“These Games can bring more than just medals that these bigger countries are looking for.
“For them [the Pacific Islanders] it’s the future of their sports in their individual countries and to change how people think about sport or the longevity of people’s lives.
“The impact of these Games can have within Oceania be bigger than what we think but if we don’t get the right people working now towards making those things happen and understand how to connect with people, it’s going to be really difficult.
“Time is running out.
“Ten years is not a lot of time. “The gap is going to become wider if we don’t do anything now,” she said.