AOC boss hits back after 'disgusting' moment sparks furore

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·Sports Reporter
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John Coates and Annastacia Palaszczuk had an awkward exchange after securing the 2013 Olympics for Brisbane.
Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said he was 'misinterpreted' after seemingly ordering Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to attend the Opening Ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics. Pictures: Getty Images

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates has not apologised after a widely criticised exchange with Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in Tokyo overnight.

Coates was accused of 'humiliating' the premier on an international stage after demanding she attend the Opening Ceremony for the Tokyo Games, after Brisbane secured the rights to host the event in 2032.

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Already under scrutiny for travelling to Tokyo amid a series of coronavirus outbreaks back in Australia, Palaszczuk remained non-committal despite Coates insisting she attend.

"You are going to the opening ceremony," Coates said during a press conference following Brisbane's successful bid.

"I am still the deputy chair...as far 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 and what's involved.

"None of you are staying behind hiding in your rooms."

Coates was widely criticised on social media for his attitude towards Palaszczuk, which was described as 'condescending', 'patronising', and 'disgusting'.

Palaszczuk, who was clearly taken aback by Coates' words, simply said: "I don't want to offend anybody."

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Amid the criticism of his attitude on Thursday, Coates issued a further statement in the afternoon, saying his comments had been 'misinterpreted' - however he did not explain how they had been misinterpreted.

Coates said attending the opening ceremony had always been a decision for the Premier to make.

"My comments regarding the Premier and the Opening Ceremony have been completely misinterpreted by people who weren't in the room," his statement read.

"Absolutely I believe the Premier should come to the Opening Ceremony and she has accepted.

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

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Brisbane wins bid to host 2032 Olympic Games

The rising number of Covid-19 cases in Tokyo have become the talking point leading up to the opening ceremony, considering the Games were already postponed last year because of the pandemic.

Major sponsor Toyota, Japan's largest car manufacturer, announced no officials from the company will attend the opening ceremony.

Officials from different countries at the Games are weighing-up their attendance on Friday.

Palaszczuk had recently claimed she wouldn't attend and was only over in Tokyo as a representative for Brisbane's bid.

The Brisbane bid, encompassing south-east Queensland, was ratified by a vote of 87 IOC members at a meeting in Tokyo before the opening of the Games on Friday.

The Brisbane 2032 delegation, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Palaszczuk, made a formal final presentation to the IOC meeting. 

“It’s a historic day not just for Brisbane and Queensland, but for the entire country,” Mr Morrison said.

“Only global cities can secure the Olympic Games – so this is fitting recognition for Brisbane’s standing across our region and the world.

“It also marks an important leap forward for Australia as we look toward major events that lock in economic growth and social benefits that will echo for years to come.

“We know the impact on Sydney more than two decades ago was transformative. We can now expect a repeat for Brisbane and communities across Queensland.

“It’s a proud day for Queenslanders and Australians everywhere.”

With agencies

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