After more than 30 years at the helm of the Australian Olympic Committee John Coates plans to remain an influence after stepping down next May.
Coates, 71, spoke about his future Wednesday during a speech for the National Press Club of Australia. The speech, delivered live, but online and with no audience was also carried by national broadcaster ABC. The talk, titled “Tokyo and Beyond” was Coates’ first major speech since the end of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Coates, an IOC vice president, served as chair of the organization’s coordination commission for the past eight years.
Coates acknowledged the controversy and challenges Tokyo faced due to the one year postponement forced by the coronavirus pandemic.
“That is why I believe Tokyo hosted the greatest Olympic Games of all,” he said.
“If the Olympic village were a country it would have been the fourth most vaccinated nation in the world and the global leader in daily testing,” Coates claimed.
Coates, first elected in 1990, Coates confirmed his plans to step down as AOC president when the next annual meeting is held in May 2022. But he said he will continue to provide services to the AOC as a consultant and hold the title of honorary life president.
Coates says remuneration will be about $150,000, one-third the amount he’s believed to be receiving at this time.
Coates will also hold a non-executive seat as a member of the board for the Brisbane 2032 Olympics.
Coates has the distinction of delivering two Olympics for Australia from bid to IOC vote, Sydney 2000 and now Brisbane. It’s a feat unmatched by any other Olympic kingmaker in the world.
Coates survived a contentious election in 2017, promising that this would be his last term. Ian Chesterman, an AOC vice president and chef de mission for Australia at several Games, is an obvious candidate. Coates did not say who he supported as a successor.
Coates said the IOC will not become involved with the ongoing campaign against China over the treatment of the Uighur Muslims in western China, but defended the aid provided by the IOC to aid Afghan athletes and sports officials to flee the country,
“It is not our remit and we do not have the ability to go beyond the conduct of the Games themselves or the way Olympic committees conduct themselves. We are not a world government. We have to respect the sovereignty of the countries who are hosting the Games.”
“The work the IOC is doing is to protect the Olympians and those involved in the Olympic moments, those who comprise the sports federation in Afghanistan. That’s within our remit,” Coates said.