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Coates hangs hat on AOC's financial heft


John Coates says the Australian Olympic Committee’s strong financial position under his presidency could put the country in the frame to host another Games.

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As accusations of bullying at the AOC raise questions over his leadership, Coates has spruiked his efforts to establish Australia as a major Olympic political and financial player during his 27-year leadership.

“We are welcome at the highest levels of international deliberations,” Coates, who sits on the International Olympic Committee executive as a vice-president, wrote in an Australian Financial Review column today.

But Danni Roche, the incumbent’s challenger at the AOC’s annual general meeting on Sunday, has reiterated her platform of redirecting money to athletes.

Roche will forgo Coates’ $750,000 yearly salary to demonstrate her commitment to athlete funding, while other expenditure will be reviewed.

“When sports can’t invest in their future, the risk of losing talented athletes to another sport, or to sport altogether, is real,” she wrote in the AFR.

Coates is concerned his abilities as an administrator have been fogged in an election campaign during which his media manager Mike Tancred stood down pending an investigation into bullying claims by former chief executive Fiona de Jong.

The matter has prompted Roche to call for cultural change at the AOC, beginning at the top.

But Coates said the finances of the AOC are in their best shape since it started operations in 1914, which benefits athletes.

Sound investments have enabled the Australia to grow its $88 million 2000 Sydney Olympics legacy by eight per cent yearly, he said.

It also makes the body the envy of national Olympic committees worldwide, with Coates suggesting Australia was well placed to bid for hosting duties.

“We speak with authority on Olympic bids and selection processes, on gender equality, on protecting clean athletes, on models for reducing the cost of Olympic venues and on relationships with sponsors and the media,” Coates said.

“And when the time comes for Australia to again step forward and ask to be considered to host the greatest event on earth, our confidence, expertise and wisdom will hold us in good stead.”


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