SBD Global/March 21, 2017/Olympics

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  • Australian Olympic Committee President Facing First Challenger Since '90

    The decision by Gold Medal-winning field hockey player Danni Roche to run against John Coates for the presidency of the Australian Olympic Committee is "pitched as a challenge by an energetic 46-year-old" who will take a A$600,000 ($463,797) pay cut to do the job of a 66-year-old administrator, according to Roy Masters of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. If the contest "tugs at a return to the old Olympic ideal of amateurism" versus Coates' career as a professional, internationally connected IOC VP, it is "just as much a collision between Melbourne and Sydney," the Australian Sports Commission and the AOC, and the Olympic sports favored under the ASC's Winning Edge program and those which are not. It is "even Liberal Party versus Labor." Roche is a board member of the ASC, chaired by Melbourne businessman John Wylie. Sydney-based Coates is "fiercely protective" of the AOC's independence from government, despite the "majority of funding of Olympic sports coming from government coffers." Since the London Olympics, a "disproportionate amount of those funds has been directed to sports that traditionally win medals at Summer Olympics." However, when Olympic sports vote at the May AGM of the AOC, all are equal with two votes each. Wylie's Winning Edge sports, such as cycling, swimming, hockey, sailing and rowing, "can be expected to support Roche but are vastly outnumbered by the sports which are not favoured for special funding." Australia's seven Summer Olympic sports, together with the new ones, "such as surfing whose introduction Coates supported for the 2020 Tokyo Games, are favoured to support Coates." On the surface, therefore, it would seem Coates, often described as "the best politician in Australia," has the numbers. However, this "ignores recent federal government support for Wylie, who had a fierce clash with Coates at an athletics meeting in Melbourne earlier this year" (SMH, 3/20).

    SPORTING DRAMA: ABC's Mary Gearin wrote break out "the popcorn and set a reminder for May 6: the biggest sporting drama of the year could erupt in the unlikely surrounds" of the AOC AGM, with a "showdown between an Olympic champion and one of Australia's most powerful sports administrators." Roche stepped forward as the face of what she calls a "new generation of leaders." The challenge already "looks set to get nasty," with long-time lieutenant Mike Tancred writing that Coates' "detractors know very little about sport and don't qualify to carry his bag." Tancred said that although Coates has "great respect" for Roche, "he's not just going to be pushed aside by someone who wants to suddenly say to him, 'Oh your days are up, mate, see ya later, go.'" Roche's challenge, "as an accomplished athlete and businesswoman, has some gravitas." Roche "vehemently denies" she is a Wylie puppet and said that the decision to run was "100 per cent her decision." Some of Coates' admirers within the sport have said that "despite all the undoubted good he's done for the Olympic movement, it is time for change" (ABC, 3/20). 

    NEW CHALLENGER: REUTERS' Nick Mulvenney reported Coates is "facing a challenge" for the first time since winning the AOC presidency in '90. He played "an integral role" in Australia winning the right to host the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and "delivering a highly successful Games." He is "also the head of the IOC's coordination commission for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and president of the Court of Arbitration for Sport." Roche said that her goal "would be to build bridges." Roche: "The Australian Olympic Committee needs new leadership. It needs to make sure that every available resource is directed to sports and athletes. It needs to lead a new culture of collaboration in Australian sport" (REUTERS, 3/20).

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  • Tokyo 2020 Golf Venue Votes To Admit Women As Full Members

    The club scheduled to hold the 2020 Tokyo Olympics golf events "voted to admit women as full members on Monday, scrapping an all-male policy that had been heavily criticized and put its hosting rights in jeopardy," according to Simon Jennings of REUTERS. The private Kasumigaseki Country Club "took the decision to change its bylaws at an extraordinary board meeting" after being told last month that the IOC would "find another venue if the policy remained unaltered." The Saitama prefecture venue is scheduled to host men's and women's tournaments in '20 but "rules forbidding women from both playing on Sundays or becoming full members had been roundly condemned, leading to Monday's vote." Tokyo Games Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori said, "We are pleased to learn that the Kasumigaseki Country Club voted today ... to amend the club's membership policy in keeping with the spirit of the Olympic Charter. ... I also would like to express my admiration for the club's endeavor to come to an agreement in such a short period of time." Several notable golf clubs have "changed their policies to allow female members in recent years." In '14, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews decided to allow women to join, after Augusta National ended its men-only membership two years earlier. Last week, Muirfield "voted to admit women members" (REUTERS, 3/20). KYODO reported the decision "was made unanimously." Kasumigaseki GM Hiroshi Imaizumi said, "We decided to open the path for women, taking into consideration the trends of the world and thinking about the future regardless of the Olympics." The regulation of the club, which has more than 200 female members, was changed to say that full membership will be granted to "a person who has reached a certain age" from the earlier version that said "a man who has reached a certain age" (KYODO, 3/20). In London, Daniel Hurst reported IOC VP John Coates said, "As we have said all along, gender equality is a fundamental principle of the Olympic Movement and an important part of Olympic Agenda 2020, and we believe this decision now reflects this" (GUARDIAN, 3/20).

    Print | Tags: Olympics, Japan
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