SYDNEY — John Coates, an IOC vice president and one of the most influential sports administrators in the world, is facing a challenge to his role as Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) president for the first time since winning the role in 1990.
Olympic hockey gold medalist Danni Roche launched her surprise bid for one of the top jobs in Australian sport on Monday and is calling for an overhaul of the organization’s leadership.
Roche, who won gold with the Hockeyroos at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, was nominated by her sport on Monday to contest the election for a four-year term at the AOC’s Annual General Meeting on May 6.
Coates, a former rowing cox, played an integral role in Australia winning the right to host the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and delivering a highly successful Games. The 66-year-old is also the head of the IOC’s coordination commission for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and president of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
He has, though, become embroiled in a public feud with the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) head John Wylie since the Rio Olympics and last month accused the head of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), Matt Favier, of plotting to depose him.
Roche, who sits on the board of the ASC, said her goal would be to build bridges between the various stakeholders in the Australian sports environment. “The Australian Olympic Committee needs new leadership,” Roche said on Monday. “It needs make sure that every available resource is directed to sports and athletes. It needs to lead a new culture of collaboration in Australian sport.”
Roche said she would reduce the AOC’s administrative costs to 30 percent of revenue and shift that funding back towards sports. The 46-year-old also took aim at the A$700,000 Coates receives each year as a consultancy fee, saying she would work for free.
AOC media chief Mike Tancred told reporters on Monday that his mentor and boss was “probably worth 10 times” the amount he receives. “John Coates is a world leader in sport, he’s highly respected, he brings a lot of corporate dollars through the door,” he said. “If he was a banker, he’d be getting bonuses of 10 times that amount. We’re getting John Coates on the cheap.”
Tancred added that he thought the feud with Wylie had led to Roche’s candidacy, and said Coates had been looking for a successor for a number of years. “He doesn’t want to hand it over to the first Tom, Dick, Harry, Janet or Tracey who comes along,” he added.
“This is his baby. He lives it, he eats it. He’s not just going to be pushed aside by someone suddenly saying to him, ‹Your days are up mate, see you later, go.’” Sports-mad Australia has traditionally punched above its weight at the Olympics but 10th place on the medals’ table in Rio last year continued a decline from fourth in Sydney in 2000 and Athens four years later.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday acknowledged he was still rankled by Turkey’s failure to win the right to host the Olympic Games, saying it had the ability to hold any sporting event.
Istanbul was a candidate to host the 2020 Summer Games but lost out to Tokyo in the election in September 2013, a decision that still irks the Turkish strongman. “We have still not been able to bring the Olympics to our country,” Erdogan told a meeting of top football players and administrators in Istanbul.
“But you know what intrigues we went through then. Even though we deserved it, we were not given the Olympics. They gave it to the ones who would be hosting it for the second time, not who would host it for the first time,” said Erdogan, referring to the fact that Tokyo hosted the Games in 1964.
Turkey is bidding to host the Euro 2024 football championships, hoping construction of a succession of new stadiums over the last years will give it an edge over its rival Germany.
The IOC is looking into awarding both the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games this year, which could lock in Paris and Los Angeles over the next two Olympic cycles.