Australian Olympic Committee boss John Coates has defended his awkward exchange with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk after drawing criticism for publicly ordering her to attend the Tokyo Games opening ceremony.
Coates, one of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) most powerful executives, raised eyebrows when he told the Premier at a media conference she needed to attend Friday’s ceremony along with other members of Australia’s delegation.
The exchange came after Brisbane was named host of the 2032 Olympics and Paralympics.
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“You are going to the opening ceremony,” Coates said to Palaszczuk, who travelled to Tokyo as a representative of Brisbane’s bid.
“I am still the deputy chair of the candidature leadership group.
“And so far as I understand, there will be an opening and a closing ceremony in 2032, and all of you have got to get along there and understand the traditional parts of that, what’s involved in an opening ceremony.
“So none of you are staying and hiding in your rooms, all right.”
Palaszczuk replied: “I don’t want to offend anybody, so…”
Coates’ comments triggered outrage on social media, and he was accused of misogyny and “mansplaining” by some Australian media pundits.
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However, Coates claims his comments had been “misinterpreted” by people who were not in the room.
“The Premier and I have a long-standing and very successful relationship,” Coates said in a statement.
“We both know the spirit of my remarks and I have no indication that she was offended in any way. Those in doubt should ask her.”
Coates has led the AOC for over 30 years and played a key role in Brisbane’s winning bid with Palaszczuk saying there were no issues between her and Coates after the exchange.
“He’s fantastic, if we didn’t have John Coates this will not have happened,” Palaszczuk told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on the successful Brisbane bid.
“John Coates has been the driving force behind us securing the Olympics.”
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