- Australia’s Olympic boss ordered a female politician to attend the Tokyo Games’ opening ceremony.
- “You are going,” John Coates told Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in a patronizing tone.
- The former head of Australian swimming described his comments as “another example of how women are treated in sport.”
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John Coates, the president of the Australian Olympic Committee, is facing huge criticism for lecturing Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk during a press conference in Tokyo.
Speaking after Brisbane was announced as host of the 2032 Olympic Games on Wednesday, Coates appeared to order Palaszczuk to attend the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games.
Palaszczuk had previously said she would not attend the ceremony amid domestic concerns about her trip due to rising COVID-19 cases Japan.
“You are going to the opening ceremony,” Coates said, looking over at a visibly uncomfortable Palaszczuk sitting next to him.
“I am still the deputy chair of the candidature leadership group. So far as I understand, there will be an opening and a closing ceremony in 2032, and all of you have got to get along there and understand the tradition parts of that, what’s involved in an opening ceremony.
“None of you are staying behind hiding in your rooms, all right?”
-Michael Rowland (@mjrowland68) July 21, 2021
On Twitter, Coates was the top trending topic in Australia on Thursday morning, while “mansplaining” appeared in the top 10.
“Mansplaining” is when a man explains something, typically to a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.
Leigh Russell, the former chief executive officer of Swimming Australia, described Coates’ treatment of Palaszczuk as “disgusting” and “yet another example of how women are treated in sport.”
Australian television presenter Julia Zemiro called Coates an “absolute disgrace” and shared a petition for the 71-year-old to resign, which has now been signed by over 3,500 people.
Thérèse Rein, the wife of the former primer minister Kevin Rudd, said: “John Coates has no right to speak to our Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk like that!
“He let himself and Australia down badly.”
-Thérèse Rein (@Therese_Rein) July 21, 2021
Coates issued a statement via the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) on Thursday, saying that his remarks to Palaszczuk had been “completely misinterpreted.”
“The Premier and I have a long standing and very successful relationship,” he said. “We both know the spirit of my remarks and I have no indication that she was offended in any way.”
Palaszczuk later confirmed she would attend the opening ceremony, but played down Coates’ remarks, telling ABC: “I’ve known John for years. So what’s happened now is that the lord mayor and the federal minister and I are expected to go.
She added: “But let me make it clear – I am not going to offend anyone now that we’ve just been awarded the Games.”