The Australian Olympic official who secured the 2032 Games for his country berated a prominent politician and insisted she attend the opening ceremony in Tokyo, sparking disbelief and outrage in Australia .
The awkward exchange happened in front of television cameras on Wednesday night at a press conference after Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, was confirmed as host of the 2032 Games.
John Coates, the president of the Australian Olympic Committee, told Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Premier of Queensland, that she could not spend her time “hiding” in her room.
Palaszczuk, 51, had traveled to Japan to secure the offer and had drawn criticism at home as most Australians cannot leave or return to the country due to coronavirus border restrictions. She had previously promised not to participate in any event of the Tokyo Olympics.
Coates, 71, disputed this, telling him at the press conference: “You are going to the opening ceremony. I’m still vice-chair of the nominations steering group. As far as I know, there will be an opening ceremony and a closing ceremony in 2032. ”
He insisted on other politicians from Queensland who had come with Palaszczuk and said: hid in your rooms, okay?
Palaszczuk declined to say why she would not attend the ceremony. Coates, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, urged her, saying, “You’ve never been to an Olympics opening ceremony, have you?
After Palaszczuk shook his head, Coates continued to insist, “You don’t know the protocols. Because the Olympic Opening Ceremonies are a major responsibility for the organizers and cost between $ 75 million and $ 100 million, said Coates, “this is my very strong recommendation” that Palaszczuk and other officials attend.
In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday morning, Palaszczuk played down the exchange, saying Brisbane was “now part of the IOC family, and I’ll just do what John Coates said.”
She added that Brisbane would not have been selected as the 2032 host “if we hadn’t had John Coates”. But when asked directly if she would attend Friday’s opening ceremony, she said she didn’t want to offend the IOC or the Japanese government and said, “I’ll let them sort this out.”
Requested in a meeting Thursday morning, if he had “canceled” Palaszczuk, Coates laughed and said, “Yes, I did.” Hours later, he issued a statement saying Palaszczuk would attend the ceremony but that it “had always been his choice” and that his comments at the press conference had been “completely distorted”.
The exchange sparked outrage in Australia, with online commentators calling Coates’ behavior “appalling” and “arrogant” and saying he would not have made the same comments to a male prime minister.
Leigh Russell, former Managing Director of Swimming Australia, wrote on Twitter: “It’s disgusting. And yet another example of how women are treated in sports.
“What a condescending and condescending man,” Jane Caro, a feminist commentator, tweeted. “How dare he publicly criticize the Premier of Queensland like she’s a naughty schoolgirl?” “
The Australian Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.