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The vice-president of the International Olympic Committee has been branded a ‘mansplaining dinosaur’ after he publicly berated an Australian state premier and ‘bullied’ her into attending the opening games of the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.
John Coates denied the bullying allegations on Thursday after he chastised Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk over her plans not to attend the event, after her state capital Brisbane was named 2032 host city late on Wednesday.
‘You are going to the opening ceremony,’ Coates, also the head of the Australian Olympic Committee, said as he crossed his arms and sat back in his chair.
‘I’m still the deputy chair of the candidature leadership group and so 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, what’s involved in an opening ceremony,’ he said.
‘So none of you are staying behind and hiding in your rooms, alright?’, Coates continued to some awkward laughter in the press room.
‘No one says no to John,’ he added.
IOC vice-president John Coates (right) denied the bullying allegations on Thursday after he chastised Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (left) publicly for not attending the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony on Friday
‘You’ve never been to an opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, have you? You don’t know the protocols,’ Coates said, persisting with his monologue.
‘It’s a very important lesson for everyone here. The opening ceremonies cost in the order of 75 million to 100 million dollars. That’s a major, major exercise for any organizing committee. It puts the stamp on the games.
‘It’s very important to the broadcasts that follow. And I think it’s my very strong recommendation the premier and the lord mayor and the minister be there and understand it. And while they’re there, they can also be very proud to watch the parade of nations and particularly the Australian team.’
Palaszczuk – one of the most senior women in Australian politics – was visibly uncomfortable, staying silent throughout his comments.
‘I don’t want to offend anybody, so,’ she said later in the press conference, before trailing off.
Australian lawmakers pilloried Coates for his behaviour, calling on him to apologise and even resign.
‘John Coates should resign on return from Tokyo,’ independent senator Rex Patrick tweeted. ‘He’s a social and political dinosaur who has spent far too long in the rarefied, self-interested @Olympics bubble.’
Social media users also called out Coates for his ‘bullying’ of the centre-left leader.
‘Someone asked what the definition of a mansplaining dinosaur looked like and Coates simply raised his hand,’ one tweeted.
‘Whoever thinks dinosaurs are extinct might listen to John Coates and wonder…’ another quipped.
Australian Journalist Matt Bevan pointed out that between now and 2032, Ms Palaszczuk would have plenty of other opportunities to attend opening ceremonies of both summer and winter Olympic games.
‘On top of all of this: John Coates is saying that Annastacia Palaszczuk must see the Opening Ceremony in Tokyo so she can become familiar with the protocols and customs,’ Mr Bevan wrote.
‘There are FIVE OTHER OLYMPICS between now and 2032. Maybe she could go to one of those?’
Pictured: John Coates (left) and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (second left) celebrate with other delegates after Brisbane was announced as the 2032 Summer Olympics host city during the 138th IOC Session in Tokyo on July 21, 2021
Former Swimming Australia CEO Leigh Russell labelled it ‘disgusting’ while conservative MP Darren Chester called it a ‘disrespectful performance which reeked of arrogance’.
In a statement released by the Australian Olympic Committee, Coates said that his comments had been ‘completely misinterpreted by people who weren’t in the room’.
‘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,’ he said.
Palaszczuk, who is under political pressure for flying to Tokyo during the pandemic, played down the incident, telling public broadcaster ABC that Coates was ‘fantastic’ and the ‘driving force behind us securing the Olympics’.
Most Australians are prevented from travelling overseas due to strict international border closures, while about half the country’s population of 25 million is currently under lockdown.
Independent Australian senator Rex Patrick was joined by other lawmakers social media users in calling out Mr Coates for his public comments to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Thursday, with many calling him a ‘dinosaur’ and ‘disrespectful’
International Olympic Committee delegates voted 72 in favour with five against and three abstentions to confirm the city’s victory, sparking wild celebrations.
It marks the third time that Australia will host the games after Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000.
It also marks the only time a city has won unopposed, after it was the sole candidate put forward by the IOC last month.
The announcement was greeted by cheers from the Australian delegates in Tokyo, while in Brisbane fireworks lit up the skies and crowds who had gathered for the vote went wild.
Scenes of celebration broke out in Brisbane on Wednesday night after the city was awarded the 2032 Olympic Games
Annastacia Palaszczuk, the state premier of Queensland where Brisbane is located, holds up a card announcing the win – telling people ‘never in my lifetime did I think this would happen’
‘I’m so excited – I have so much pride for my state, for my people. Never in my lifetime did I think that this was going to happen,’ said Palaszczuk.
‘We’ve done it, Queensland! We’ve done it, Brisbane! This is fantastic, this is amazing – tonight is your night, enjoy.’
Hundreds of people packed Brisbane’s Southbank riverside precinct for the announcement, watching the city’s final pitch to the IOC on a big screen.
Rhys Cush, 24, one of those in the masked-up crowd, said he hoped to work at the 2032 Olympics and also attend as a spectator.
‘I’m an extremely big fan. I even watched the softball this morning,’ he told AFP. ‘I’m super excited about having the Olympics coming here.’
Lauren Granger, 42, said she hoped the 2032 Olympics would recreate the buzz of Sydney’s successful 2000 Games.
Australians celebrate after hearing that Brisbane has been chosen as the host city of the 2032 Olympics, marking the third time the country will host the games
Brisbane is also the first city to win the nomination after running unopposed
Families celebrate in Brisbane after learning the Olympics will come to Australia in 2032
‘We flew down to Sydney and we were at the Olympics and it was just such a great experience for our family,’ she said.
‘That was 20 years ago so we’d love to be able to relive that in 2032 with our kids.’
Home to about 2.3 million people and bookended by shimmering coastal sands, Brisbane is seen as more laid-back and less cosmopolitan than Australia’s sprawling southern cities.
Venues will be spread across Brisbane and nearby towns in Queensland state, including the Gold Coast which hosted the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
There are hopes the Olympics will boost Brisbane’s profile, making it more attractive to tourists who tend to use it as a jumping-off point for attractions like the Great Barrier Reef.
The Australian newspaper reported the Games will cost $3.5bn, with the opening and closing ceremonies taking place at a redeveloped Gabba cricket ground.
‘It’s a historic day not just for Brisbane and Queensland, but for the entire country,’ said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Fireworks explode over Brisbane, the host city of the 2032 Olympic Games
‘Only global cities can secure the Olympic Games, so this is fitting recognition for Brisbane’s standing across our region and the world.’
The decision means the IOC has now secured hosts for the next three Summer Olympics, with Paris holding the event in 2024 and Los Angeles organising the 2028 Games.
The awarding of the 2032 Olympics was the first to take place with a new election method adopted in June 2019 in an attempt to counter application fees and a lack of serious bids.
For the 2024 Games, Bach complained the process had ‘produced too many losers’, after Rome, Hamburg and Budapest all pulled out of the running.
Bidding cities have become increasingly hard to come by in recent years as costs balloon and the economic benefits of holding the Games remain unclear.
The vote took place two days before the troubled Tokyo Olympics, which will start behind closed doors on Friday after a year’s delay because of the pandemic.