Rugby League could feature at the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane, with discussions having already been held with the Queensland Government about the inclusion of the code’s Nines and wheelchair formats.
Brisbane was awarded the 2032 Games on Wednesday night in Tokyo, but officials have been working for some time to have rugby league recognised as an Olympic sport in anticipation of the Queensland Government’s bid being successful.
IRL chairman Troy Grant met with Queensland sports minister Stirling Hinchcliffe during the NRL’s Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium in May to advise of rugby league’s ambition for the 2032 Olympics.
“We have indicated that the Olympics is a priority for us,” Grant said.
“We are really excited about Brisbane being awarded the 2032 Games and we will be doing all we can to be included, either as a demonstration sport or, potentially, as an allocated sport.
“Rugby League Nines and Wheelchair will be our target. They are both favourably looked upon by the IOC, given that they are smaller squad sizes for team events.
“We are already in the advanced stages of making sure that we qualify by getting GAISF [Global Association of International Sports Federations] membership.
Try July nears $200,000 mark
The IRL was awarded observer status of the (GAISF) in 2017 and has been working towards full membership.
The Nines version of rugby league featured at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games as a demonstration sport, and Grant said the 2032 Olympics had been identified as the next target.
“Having the Olympics in a league-loving state and city is certainly an advantage for us,” Grant said.
“I have already had a meeting with the Queensland sports minister during Magic Round to flag our interest.
“I wanted to make sure that he was aware at the earliest stage, that if Brisbane did get the Games, we would be actively working with the organising committee going forward and continuing on our path for IOC recognition as an international sports federation.”
ARLC chairman Peter V'landys said the game would unite behind the bid.
"It would be great, it is one of the best sports in the world. It is the greatest game of all, so to have it at the Olympics, it is a perfect fit and we will certainly be doing everything in our power to make it one of those sports," V'landys told 2GB.
Rugby Sevens became an Olympic sport at the 2012 Games in London but Grant doesn’t believe that would prevent rugby league Nines from being introduced in Brisbane.
While the two formats are similar, baseball and softball are both Olympic sports and there are a number of other examples.
“Some people have said that the Olympics already has Rugby Sevens, would they take Nines too? But there are various forms of swimming so why couldn’t you have a rugby variation,” Grant said.
Match Highlights: Kangaroos v Kiwis
“I think it would be good to have both shortened forms of rugby at the Olympic Games in Brisbane.”
Queensland's main three NRL venues - Suncorp Stadium, Cbus Stadium on the Gold Coast and Townsville's QCB Stadium - will also host events at the 2032 Olympics.
Upgrades to increase the capacity of Sunshine Coast Stadium, Barlow Park in Cairns and Toowoomba's Clive Berghofer Stadium have also been announced, along with the construction of a new stadium in Ipswich.