Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates says his public scolding of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk have been “completely misinterpreted by people who weren’t in the room”.
Coates went viral for all the wrong reasons on Thursday morning after footage emerged of an awkward exchange with Palaszczuk regarding the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.
After Brisbane was awarded the 2032 Games, Coates publicly insisted that Palaszczuk attend the opening ceremony in Tokyo. Palaszczuk confirmed that she would attend despite a prior assurance that she would not, claiming that she did not want to offend either Japan or the IOC.
However, Coates was not impressed after being accused of ‘mansplaining’ the situation to the Queensland Premier and issued his response via a curt statement.
“My comments regarding the Premier and the Opening Ceremony have been completely misinterpreted by people who weren’t in the room,” he said.
“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.
“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.”
Coates’ statement came after vision of the awkward exchange between the two left both fans and former athletes stunned in Australia.
“You are going to the opening ceremony,” he told Palaszczuk directly at a press conference in Tokyo.
“There will be an opening and a closing ceremony in 2032 and all of you, everyone there, has got to understand the traditional parts of that, what’s involved in an opening ceremony. None of you are staying home and going to be sitting in your room.
“You’ve never been to an opening ceremony. You don’t know the protocols and I think it’s a very important lesson for everyone here – opening ceremonies cost in the order of $75 to $100 million.
“My very strong recommendation is the Premier and the Lord Mayor and the Minister be there and understand it.”
Palaszczuk said that she would follow Coates’ advice. She previously insisted that she must travel to Tokyo to secure votes for the 2032 Games, despite controversy due to ongoing Australian COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions, but claimed that she would basically fly in and out.
“John Coates was laying down the law last night,” she told ABC radio on Thursday after the opening ceremony exchange.
“We are now a part of the IOC family and I will do what John Coates says.”
The exchange, which was punctuated by awkward silences as Coates effectively issued orders to Palaszczuk, was branded “mansplaining” by high-profile ABC journalist Louise Milligan; a leading reporter on women’s issues.
“Is it just me or has mansplaining somehow got even worse lately?” she wrote on Twitter, as a caption to a video of the Coates and Palaszczuk exchange.
Fellow ABC journalist Annabel Crabb wrote: “This is a diamond-perfect instance of a man who believes his own job and priorities and worldview are universal and another person’s failure to adopt them unquestioningly is evidence of stupidity or incomprehension on her part. Amazing to see it performed so publicly.”
Former Swimming Australia CEO Leigh Russell said: “This is disgusting. And yet another example of how women are treated in sport.
“#AnastasiaPalaszczuk in an impossible situation. Her constituents – don’t go – why should you have all the fun when we are in a pandemic? Bully boys of sport – you’re not in the club unless you come drink expensive wine with us….after all, that’s what sport is about, right?”
Former Socceroos captain Craig Foster wrote: “Top of the medal tally in misogyny.”
Actor and media personality Magda Szubanski wrote: “John Coates behaviour is waaaay past awkward and a loooong way into thuggish.”
Coates is also the vice-president of the Australian Olympic Committee. He has been the AOC boss for 31 years.
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