Coates sees off Roche to remain Australian Olympic chief
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[May 06, 2017]
By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) - John Coates survived
a threat to his 27-year reign over the Australian Olympic Committee
(AOC) when he comfortably beat Danni Roche in a ballot at the body's
annual general meeting to be re-elected president until 2021.
The 66-year-old, one of the sporting world's most powerful figures,
would have lost his roles as International Olympic Committee (IOC)
vice-president and head of the coordination commission for the 2020
Tokyo Games if he had lost the vote.
After an acrimonious campaign, however, the lawyer won 58 of the 93
votes, with Olympic hockey gold medalist Roche supported by 35 AOC
executive members, sporting bodies and athletes' representatives who
made up the electorate.
"Thank you for your confidence in me," Coates said after his
re-election was met with a round of applause and a few whoops at
Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art.
Coates later conceded that the AOC brand had been damaged by the
election campaign but was not interested in any recriminations.
"I'm not getting into any blame. The election is over," Coates said.
"What I might have said, what others said about me, that is over.
Just move forward."
Roche, who had taken aim at Coates's A$700,000 ($520,000) annual
consultancy fee and pledged to divert more funding to athletes from
administration, congratulated her opponent but said the desire for
change in Australian sport was undeniable.
"Although the AOC members did not vote for a change in president,
the past six weeks marks a pivotal moment in Australian sport," she
"We have started a much-needed conversation about the future
direction of Australian sport...
"There is a desire for the AOC to place a greater
focus on their sports and athletes and for it to have a more
collaborative relationship with the federations and Australian
[to top of second column]
International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice President and Australian
Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates speaks to delegates
before the ballot for the position of AOC President at the body's
annual general meeting in Sydney, Australia, May 6, 2017.
Coates also tightened his grip on the AOC executive with allies Ian
Chesterman and Helen Brownlee elected as vice-presidents, while
Andrew Plympton, his biggest critic on the board, losing out.
Coates, who assumed office in 1990, has not come through the process
unscathed, however, and lost his fiercely loyal media director Mike
Tancred to accusations of bullying from former AOC Chief Executive
Fiona de Jong during the campaign.
While his financial and money-raising acumen remain beyond doubt, he
must find a way to work with the government, through the federally
funded Australian Sports Commission (ASC), to arrest a slide down
the medal tables in recent Olympics.
Having finished fourth at Athens in 2004, Australia was 10th at Rio
last year and the friction between the AOC and the ASC, led by
wealthy Melbourne businessman John Wylie, was almost certainly
behind the damaging presidential campaign.
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury/John O'Brien)
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