The Australian Olympic official who secured the 2032 Games for his country rebuked a key politician and insisted that she attend the opening ceremony in Tokyo, causing distrust and anger in Australia.
The difficult exchange took place in front of television cameras Wednesday night at a press conference after Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, was confirmed as the host of the 2032 Games.
John Coates, President of the Australian Olympic Committee, told Annastacia Palaszczuk, Prime Minister of Queensland, that she could not spend her time hiding in her room.
Palaszczuk, 51, had traveled to Japan to secure the offer and reviews at home because most Australians are unable to leave or return to the country due to coronavirus border restrictions. She had previously promised not to participate in any Tokyo Olympics events.
Coates, 71, found out about this, telling her at the press conference: You will go to the opening ceremony. I am still the deputy chairman of the candidacy leadership group. As far as I understand, there will be an opening and closing ceremony in 2032.
He extended his insistence to other Queensland politicians who had come with Palaszczuk and said: All of you will go well there and understand the traditional parts of this, what is involved in an opening ceremony, so none of you will stand back and hide in your rooms, okay?
Palaszczuk declined to say why he would not attend the ceremony. Coates, a vice president of the International Olympic Committee, pressured him by saying, You’ve never been to an opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, right?
After Palaszczuk shook his head, Coates continued to insist: You do not know the protocols. Because the Olympic opening ceremonies are a huge responsibility for the organizers and cost $ 75 to $ 100 million to set up, Coates said, my recommendation is very strong for Palaszczuk and other officials to attend.
In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday morning, Palaszczuk downplayed the exchange, saying Brisbane was now part of the IOC family, and I would just do what John Coates said.
She added that Brisbane would not have been chosen as the host of 2032 if we did not have John Coates. But when asked directly if she would attend Friday’s opening ceremony, she said she did not want to offend the IOC or the Japanese government and said, I would let them resolve it.
Asked inside an interview on Thursday morning if he had overloaded Palaszczuk, Coates laughed and said: Yes, I did it. Hours later, he issued a statement saying Palaszczuk would attend the ceremony but that it has always been her choice and that his comments at the press conference were misinterpreted.
The exchange sparked outrage in Australia, with online commentators labeling Coatess’s horrific and arrogant behavior and claiming he would not have made the same comments about a male prime minister.
Leigh Russell, a former chief executive of Swimming Australia, wrote on Twitter: This is disgusting. And yet another example of how women are treated in sports.
What a humiliating, patronizing man, Jane Caro, a feminist commentator, cicerone. How dare he publicly brand the Queensland prime minister as if she were a bad student?
The Australian Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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