The future of the AIS in Canberra is again being thrust into the spotlight following suggestions the high-performance centre should be moved to Brisbane.
Former Sport Australia chair John Wylie said the institute should be relocated to Queensland in preparation for Brisbane to host the 2032 Olympic Games.
It will create a stir in the capital and appears to go against the reason why Canberra was chosen as neutral site more than 30 years ago to avoid NSW, Victoria and Queensland complaining about its location.
A cloud still hovers over the campus, which has been stuck in bureaucratic limbo for the past decade.
"I personally think the AIS should be based in southeast Queensland. I think that's the right place for athletes," Wylie told News Corp.
"I think there's going to be this really significant gravitational pull in Australian sport towards southeast Queensland as a result of 2032. And so I think it'd be a fantastic legacy."
Sport Australia has completed a plan for the future and has canvassed several options for reinvigorating the 64 hectare campus, but federal government officials have so far refused to make a decision.
The Department of Health has also refused to publish the options for the future of the institute.
One being considered is selling 32 hectares to the ACT government, including Canberra Stadium and the decommissioned AIS Arena.
Sport Australia would then reinvest in a smaller campus and shift the focus away from the institute's initial purpose of being an athlete hub.
The ACT government had hoped Brisbane winning the bid to be an Olympic host city would accelerate plans for the future, especially after Sport Australia shut the AIS Arena indefinitely last year.
Reopening it would require millions of dollars worth of upgrades to a fire maintenance system, lighting and seating.
The ACT government doesn't want to pay for the maintenance because the Arena is owned by Sport Australia, a federal government agency.
Sport Australia doesn't want to pay for the required work because it no longer views the Arena as "core purpose" to the institute, preferring to invest the money elsewhere.
The stalemate has become increasingly frustrating for sports, with professional netball and basketball without a suitable venue in Canberra.
The ACT government had to cancel the final year of its deal with the Giants Netball franchise because the Arena was closed.
The ongoing Covid outbreaks around Australia have distracted from the Arena standoff because no large scale indoor events have been hosted in Canberra since March last year.
The Arena, however, is slated to be a mass Covid vaccination hub when supply increases, but the government is still working out logistics given the Arena has been closed for 18 months.
Wylie's comments will spark speculation again and there has been growing fear in recent years the Sport Australia board has been intent on moving the AIS away from the capital.
Staff numbers have been slashed and the workforce has been decentralised.
But moving to Brisbane would create interstate drama, with NSW and Victoria unlikely to support a major investment in Queensland.
The Victorian government has been trying to convince Basketball Australia to shift its program - one of the only remaining on-campus programs at the AIS - to Melbourne.
The future of the AIS will be largely focused on technology and science, aiming to take advantage of development rather than having athletes live on campus.
But Brisbane will be looking to increase its sports presence over the next decade and could convince the federal government to invest as part of the Olympic plans.
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