Olympic boss John Coates left little doubt about the power of sport in Australian politics by publicly ordering Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk to attend the opening ceremony in Tokyo after the IOC awarded Brisbane the 2032 Games.
With around 13 million people locked up in Australia due to COVID-19 outbreaks, Palaszczuk has been criticized by national media for traveling to Tokyo this week as representative of Brisbane’s bid for the Olympic Games in 2032.
She had said that she would not attend any events during her stay in Tokyo, except for the presentation of the bid team at the session of the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday and that she would confine herself to her hotel.
However, her resolve collapsed in an awkward exchange with Coates on Wednesday night as the president of the Australian Olympic Committee put her back in order.
“You are going to the opening ceremony,” Coates said at a press conference.
“I am still vice-president of the nominations steering group.
“And as far as I know, there will be an opening ceremony and a closing ceremony in 2032, and you all have to get along there and understand the traditional parts of that, what an opening ceremony involves.” .
“So none of you stay and hide in your rooms, okay.”
Palaszczuk replied: “I don’t want to offend anyone, so …”
Coates continued, “You’ve never been to an opening ceremony, have you?
“You don’t know the protocols, I think that’s a very important lesson for everyone here.
“The opening ceremonies cost in the order of 75 to 100 million dollars, it is a major exercise for any organizing committee.
“It is my very strong recommendation that the Prime Minister, the Lord Mayor and the Minister are here and understand it.”
Coates, one of the IOC’s most powerful leaders, played a key role in securing the 2032 Games.
Appearing on an Australian breakfast TV show on Thursday, Palaszczuk was clear on his instructions.
“I’m going to do whatever John Coates tells me to do,” she said.
“I am not going to offend the International Olympic Committee now that we have hosted the Games.”
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