John Coates savaged over 'garbage' response to QLD Premier furore

·Sports Editor
·5-min read
John Coates and Annastacia Palaszczuk, pictured here at the Tokyo Olympics.
John Coates failed to apologise for his comments towards Annastacia Palaszczuk. Image: Getty

John Coates had copped further backlash for his comments towards Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk after brushing off the furore in a public response on Thursday.

The Australian Olympic Committee president sparked uproar around Australia on Wednesday night with what many labelled "condescending" and "humiliating" comments towards Palaszczuk at the Olympics.

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Coates ordered the Queensland Premier to attend Friday night's opening ceremony in Tokyo after she stated that she was planning to watch on TV from her hotel room.

Brisbane's 2032 Olympic Games celebrations took an awkward turn when Coates ordered the Premier to change her plans.

"You are going to the opening ceremony," Coates said as Palaszczuk looked on sheepishly.

"As I understand, there will be an opening and closing ceremony in 2032 and all of you are going to get along there and understand the traditional parts of that, what's involved in an opening ceremony, so none of you are staying behind and hiding in your rooms, alright?

"You've never been to the opening ceremony of an Olympic Games, have you? You don't know the protocols, I think it's a very important lesson for everyone here."

Former Socceroos star and social equality advocate Craig Foster tweeted that Coates had shot to the "top of the medal tally in misogyny", while other high-profile commentators also took offence.

John Coates, pictured here speaking to the media during the IOC Press Conference in Tokyo.
John Coates speaks to the media during the IOC Press Conference in Tokyo. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

But Coates issued a statement later on Thursday asserting his comments had "been completely misinterpreted by people who weren't in the room".

"Absolutely I believe the Premier should come to the opening ceremony and she has accepted," he said.

"I am thrilled about that. Attending the Opening Ceremony has always been her choice.

"My view has always been all three levels of government should come to the opening ceremony.

"The Premier and I have a long standing and very successful relationship.

"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."

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Backlash over John Coates' response to furore

Palaszczuk played down the controversy, explaining that an invite to the opening ceremony had not been on the table until they were officially awarded the hosting rights on Wednesday.

"If we didn't have John Coates, this would not have happened," she added.

"He has been able to get all levels of government to work together for us to have this bid and his engagement with the business community, his networks are absolutely phenomenal."

But Coates' response to the furore sparked even more backlash.

Annastacia Palaszczuk and John Coates, pictured here speaking to the media in Tokyo.
Lord Mayor of Brisbane Adrian Schrinner, Australian Senator Richard Colbeck, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and AOC president John Coates speak to the media in Tokyo. (Photo by TORU HANAI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

March4Justice founder Janine Hendry called the situation a “global embarrassment”.

“On behalf of the 110,000 women and their allies who joined more than 200 March4Justice events in March 2021, we call on the International Olympic Committee to reprimand John Coates to demonstrate that they are truly committed to a gender equal Tokyo Olympics,” Hendry said in a statement.

“There can be no gender equal Olympics when dinosaurs like this sit on the International Olympics Committee. Coates wants to claim a role as a great statesman, instead he is a proven global embarrassment.

“Yet again, as I read the morning news the taste of my toast is spoiled by misogyny. Yet again I started my day explaining to my son that sexism and misogyny at the highest ranks, this time in sports, this behaviour is not okay.”

Author Mel Kettle tweeted: “Nothing like a media statement to make a bad situation worse. This is what happens when ego gets in the way.”

Sports reporter Sam Squires wrote: “If you don’t see the problem with Coates’ demeaning comments then you’re more than likely part of the culture problem that this ‘exchange’ represents. Please ask someone and then listen why it was so disgusting and offensive.”

While reporter Nadine Blayney tweeted: “Terrible, and a poor response to the backlash from Coates. It should be said it would have been equally uncomfortable to watch if it was a man he was speaking to like that (though I doubt that would have happened).”

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with AAP

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