Complaint to the International Olympics Committee: Mining magnates are a threat to Brisbane Olympics

To the International Olympic Committee, 

The Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) is the peak environmental body for conservation groups in the state of Queensland. Since 1969 QCC has worked with groups and communities to restore and nurture the environment, leading state-wide campaigns and supporting local and regional campaigns.

We want to alert the International Olympic Committee to a significant reputational risk to the Brisbane 2032 Olympics and the IOC, posed by fossil fuel affiliated Hancock Prospecting and News Ltd. Controversial mining company Hancock Prospecting, owner Gina Rinehart and media outlets News Corp and Sky News are hosting Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszcacuk at an event featuring Future Brisbane: ...2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine all of Queensland.

We are seriously concerned that these fossil fuel stakeholders are taking advantage of the IOC’s Olympic prestige to further their self interests, which poses a significant risk to Queensland’s natural values and to the reputation of the IOC’s first climate positive Olympics initiative. We are very concerned about the risk of Hancock Prospecting or News Corp being approved as a sponsor for the Brisbane Olympics, or a representative being selected as a nominee for the Brisbane Organising Committee.  

We will also be making a submission to the Queensland Government raising our concerns, and asking them to rule out any sponsorship from a company that contributes to environment degradation or avoidable carbon emissions such as fossil fuel extraction. 

Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Group is proposing the equal biggest new thermal coal mine in Queensland and is responsible for nearly 15% of proposed new coal mine capacity in Australia through two mega thermal coal mines in the Galilee coal basin. Hancock Group’s proposed mine is adjacent to the internationally controversial Adani coal mine. If developed, the mine is forecast to produce 40 megatonnes of thermal coal per year. Once burnt, this would release nearly 85 megatonnes carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, 1.8 times the annual emissions of Switzerland (46 megatonnes CO2 in 2019). The International Energy Agency’s 2021 Pathways to Net Zero report demonstrated, beyond doubt, that new coal mines cannot be built to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees. To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and avoid the most severe impacts on climate change, all of the coal within this mining lease must remain unburnt. Therefore, Hancock Prospecting’s business plans directly impact and contradict parts of the Mission as outlined in the IOC’s Code of Ethics; especially the protection of athletes and respect for the environment (page 64).

The other hosts of the Future Brisbane event are media outlets owned by News Corp with a concerning history in terms of reporting on environmental issues. Research into Australia’s News Corp media has revealed its deliberate efforts to undermine individual and institutional action to mitigate the impacts of climate change. This research found that during the Black Summer bushfires, News Corp and News Corp-owned APN Newspapers produced 75% of all articles that denied the influence of climate change on the bushfires over summer. Similar trends played out regarding reporting of the debunked role of arson and hazard reduction burning. News Corp also owns the Fox News network in the United States, an outlet shown to reduce social distancing compliance and acceptance of scientists' views of global warming in peer reviewed research. 

We are concerned that the significant efforts made by the IOC to ensure that future Olympics have positive impacts for communities, the environment and climate are being dangerously undermined by fossil fuel companies and politically controversial advocates in Queensland. We urge the IOC to publicly distance itself from fossil fuel companies like Hancock Prospecting that are currently hosting Olympic themed events.