Ath­letes warn Coates to keep his prom­ises

New Straits Times - - Sport -

SYDNEY: Aus­tralia’s ath­letes say they will hold John Coates to ac­count af­ter the coun­try’s most pow­er­ful sports fig­ure was re­turned as pres­i­dent of the Aus­tralian Olympic Com­mit­tee (AOC) this week­end.

Coates, 67, who has been the AOC pres­i­dent for 27 years, won a se­cret bal­lot 58-35 against for­mer field hockey Olympian Danni Roche at the Sydney AGM on Satur­day to con­tinue in his role.

Coates’s task will be to unite the frac­tured AOC move­ment di­vided af­ter a bit­ter pres­i­dency cam­paign, which he con­ceded had dam­aged the Olympic brand in Aus­tralia.

He has de­clared this will be his last four-year term of of­fice and has vowed to step down af­ter the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Aus­tralian ath­letes’ com­mis­sion chair Steve Hooker warned Coates to keep his prom­ise of change within the AOC amid al­le­ga­tions of bul­ly­ing and in­tim­i­da­tion in­side its ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“In our con­ver­sa­tions with John, he un­der­stands that things have to change,” the for­mer Olympic pole vault cham­pion said late Satur­day.

“There has to be some bridges that are re­paired. And he has ex­pressed to us per­son­ally that he is go­ing to do that. We are go­ing to hold him to ac­count.”

Olympic row­ing gold medal­list and com­mis­sion deputy Kim Bren­nan said Roche’s chal­lenge for the AOC pres­i­dency should be­come a cat­a­lyst for change.

Swim­ming Aus­tralia said even though the in­cum­bent pres­i­dent and In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee vice-pres­i­dent Coates had re­tained his po­si­tion, the re­sult would still bring change at the AOC.

“I think the re­al­ity is that John’s spent the last 10 years over­seas,” Swim­ming Aus­tralia pres­i­dent John Ber­trand told the Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion.

“You know they needed more lead­er­ship at home. There’s a new CEO in place that peo­ple feel very com­fort­able about.

“I think we’re go­ing to see a change in cul­ture and a change in gov­er­nance as a re­sult of all of those fac­tors.”

Coates said part of his char­ter was now en­sur­ing a smooth tran­si­tion plan, but dis­tanced him­self from choos­ing his suc­ces­sor.

One of new CEO Matt Car­roll’s im­me­di­ate tasks will be to over­see an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into work­place prac­tices at the AOC amid wide­spread bul­ly­ing claims.

Coates’ right-hand man Mike Tan­cred stepped down from his role as AOC me­dia di­rec­tor last month pend­ing an in­de­pen­dent com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­ga­tion of al­le­ga­tions of bul­ly­ing made by for­mer AOC chief ex­ec­u­tive Fiona de Jong.

Coates said he would also put out an olive branch to John Wylie, chair­man of the govern­ment-backed Aus­tralian Sports Com­mis­sion, in a bid to end their on­go­ing feud. AFP

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