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The NSW government has refused to say how much it will cost to bring World Surf League events to Newcastle and Narrabeen in April amid reports it has paid the organisers $5 million.
Queensland Labor tourism and sports minister Stirling Hinchcliffe was quoted in the Gold Coast Bulletin early this week complaining that NSW had vastly outbid his state to attract the WSL.
The WSL subsequently announced that it would not go to Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast this year but Narrabeen instead.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced on February 6 that Merewether would host the first Australian round of the series from April 1 to 11.
Newcastle replaced the Bells Beach event in Victoria.
The Bulletin report said the Queensland government was understood to have offered $500,000 to the WSL, but NSW and Western Australia had offered $5 million.
Mr Hinchcliffe suggested NSW, unlike Queensland, had offered to pay for athletes' hotel quarantine.
"The WSL made it clear holding the event at Snapper Rocks this year was conditional on the Queensland government picking up the quarantine tab for the WSL's international competitors," he was quoted as saying.
"Quarantine expenses for sporting events have always been the responsibility of the organising body.
"If that's what NSW has agreed to pay to lure the WSL, then NSW taxpayers who have paid for hotel quarantine out of their own pocket should ask for a refund."
He said the WSL had "chased short-term dollars at the expense of surfing tradition".
Destination NSW would not say on Wednesday if the $5 million figure was accurate.
It would not say who was paying for hotel quarantine but directed the Newcastle Herald to a WSL statement which said the NSW government was not footing the bill.
Mr Barilaro said on February 6 that the government and City of Newcastle would sponsor the event but the dollar figure involved was "commercial in confidence".
A council spokesperson said on Wednesday that the city had sponsored the event out of its $300,000 major events development program, which had also been used to secure SANZAAR Rugby Championship games, the Oceania Paratriathlon, NSW Regional Academy Games and Australian Boardriders Battle.
The spokesperson said the WSL event would generate $15 million in economic benefits and show the city to 10 million viewers around the world.
Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes wrote in the Newcastle Herald last weekend that the council had prepared a bid for the event in six hours after the head of Destination NSW had reached out two days before Mr Barilaro's announcement.
The WSL event is expected to attract 52 of the best international surfers, including Kelly Slater, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright, Carissa Moore and Gabriel Medina.
Newcastle's long-running Surfest event, a lower-tier stop on the international circuit, was cancelled in November due to COVID-19 safety concerns.
The WSL on Tuesday confirmed the dates and locations for its Australian swing, beginning with the Newcastle Cup from April 1.
Narrabeen, on Sydney's northern beaches, would stage the second event from April 16 to 26 before the championship heads across the country for the Margaret River Pro from May 2.
A final event would be held at Rottnest Island from May 16 to 26.
The WSL's Asia-Pacific general manager, Andrew Stark, said on Tuesday that the tour's regular stops at Snapper Rocks and Bells Beach were not viable due to the need to establish quarantine bubbles for each event.
Overseas competitors are set to arrive in Australia on a chartered flight from Los Angeles on March 8 before athletes and support staff enter a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine period.
Only once an athlete has received medical clearance will they be allowed to enter the general community and prepare for the opening event in Newcastle.
IN THE NEWS