The Meanjin Olympics? Why there’s talk of a name change for the Australian host of the 2032 Summer Games

Australian city Brisbane is the host city for the 2032 Olympics but a recent report said there’s talk of changing the city’s name to its Indigenous equivalent.
Australian city Brisbane is the host city for the 2032 Olympics but a recent report said there’s talk of changing the city’s name to its Indigenous equivalent. | Adobe Stock
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Could the Australian host of the 2032 Summer Games soon be called something else?

Last week, a Brisbane talk radio host reported Australian authorities are “working behind the scenes” with First Nations peoples and the Greens party to change Brisbane’s name to its Indigenous equivalent, Meanjin, in advance of the Olympics.

Citing unnamed sources, Peter Gleeson also said other changes may be coming to the former British penal colony, including the removal of a prominent statute of England’s King George V, “sort of like stripping the colonization from our major landmarks.”

The claim has been denied by the Australian state of Queensland’s government, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk calling it “absolute nonsense.” The story has been updated with the response, but not retracted.


Talk of a name change for Brisbane, selected by the International Olympic Committee two years ago as the site of the 2032 Games, was harshly criticized by the leader of a national right-wing populist party founded in Queensland, Sky News Australia reported.

“How insane is this, to actually want to change the name of Brisbane, that’s been called Brisbane for what, 150 years plus,” One Nation Sen. Pauline Hanson said, adding she had “no intentions of actually wanting to remember” what part of the city was originally called.

Meanjin, also spelled Meeanjin, comes from one of the area’s Aboriginal peoples, the Turrbal, and is said to refer to the spike of land that is now home to Brisbane’s central business district.

It’s likely to become more widely known because of new efforts by the Australian government to recognize Indigenous place names that includes tourist maps with the country’s major cities referred to by both their current and traditional names.

That’s been the case since the 1990s with Uluru, the sacred sandstone monolith that a European explorer had named Ayers Rock. In June, the Queensland premier presided over the restoration of the Aboriginal name K’gari to another popular tourist site, Fraser Island.

At that ceremony, Palaszczuk said officially recognizing the island’s original name “is not a gift for a government to bestow, it was something long since owed. We have to stop doing things to our people, and do more with them,” reported.

Last year, a top Tourism Australia official said the government agency plans to start “dual-naming our cities and other select locations, using the current term alongside the traditional Aboriginal name,” the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

“Our research across our key markets is telling us that the more we tell our Indigenous story and bring it to life, the more interest there is,” the official, Tourism Australia’s managing director, Phillipa Harrison, was quoted as saying.


Brisbane was named the “preferred” bid for the 2032 Olympics before other cities had a chance to get in the race and was formally awarded the event a few months later under the IOC’s new bidding process. Previously, the pick would have been made in 2025.

Even though that decision came in 2021, four years ahead of the former bid schedule, the IOC has yet to choose the host of the 2030 Winter Games after plans to advance a “preferred” bid last December were delayed.

Salt Lake City is in the running for the 2030 Olympics, along with Sapporo, Japan; Vancouver, Canada; and new bids from Sweden, Switzerland and a sixth country the IOC has declined to identify.

The IOC could name a “preferred” bid for 2030 as soon as October, with a final vote expected in mid-2024. Salt Lake City is also bidding for 2034, seeing the later date as financially better because the 2028 Summer Games are in Los Angeles.