The Sydney Olympics have been bought “to a large extent”, says Australian official John Coates | Olympic Games


John Coates, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee and outgoing president of the Australian National Olympic Committee, said “to a large extent” Sydney won the Summer Olympics in 2000 because it “bought the Games”.

In excerpts from a newly unearthed hour-long interview in 2008, Coates revealed that he offered payments to two African National Olympic Committees that were represented on the IOC panel in exchange for their votes in 1993.

Coates, who is also chairman of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, was cleared of any wrongdoing in this regard in 1999 by an independent report by auditor Tom Sheridan after it was alleged that it amounted to offering him bribes. de-vin in exchange for votes. . Sheridan said payments were not offered directly to IOC members and also criticized the IOC’s guidelines for Candidate Cities as unworkable.

He later admitted to pledging an additional $35,000 to NOCs represented by Kenya IOC member Charles Mukora and Uganda IOC member Francis Nyangweso at a dinner the last night before the IOC vote in Monte Carlo. . “I wasn’t going to die wondering why we didn’t win,” Coates said in 1999, adding there was nothing “sinister” about the arrangement.

“No payment has been made, letters have been delivered with commitments to two African NOCs,” he added in 2004 after an investigation by the BBC’s Panorama programme.

Coates, Australia’s top Olympic movement official, was vice-chairman of Sydney’s bid committee. It is understood that Coates does not dispute that on behalf of the then Australian Organizing Committee, he offered contingent grants and sports assistance to the NOCs of Kenya and Uganda under the assistance program from the AOC to the African NOCs. These grants did not violate any IOC candidacy rules at the time. They were later banned by the IOC following a corruption scandal surrounding Salt Lake City’s successful bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Coates detailed his agreement with Mukora and Nyangweso in 1993 in an hour-long interview spanning his career with Victoria University sports professor Bob Stewart in 2008, as part of an oral history of sport for the National Library from Australia.

Nyangweso was cleared of any wrongdoing by an inquest in 1999, while Mukora resigned from the IOC in 1999 after the Sheridan report recommended his expulsion. Mukora was also accused of receiving payments into his personal bank account from the Salt Lake bid team.

Coates explained the offer to Mukora and Nyangweso, made by him as chairman of the Australian Olympic Committee. “Obviously the Ugandan and I think Kenyan members were very nervous about dealing with me because I was sitting at their table at a big banquet the night before,” recalls- he. “So I just went and said to them, ‘Look if, you know, if you vote for us and we stand up, then there’s US$50,000 [a different figure to the $35,000 that has been reported] for each of your two National Olympic Committees, 10 a year for the next five years or whatever, you tell them it will be spent on sports.

“That afterwards, and it was pretty open about it, everything was audited. But then it was seen that one of those members had directed the 10 into his own bank account and there was an investigation into all of this and so it is suggested that we bought the Games. Well, to a large extent we did…”

John Coates' lawyers have said he did not breach IOC rules as they existed at the time.
John Coates’ lawyers have said he did not breach IOC rules as they existed at the time. Photography: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

Coates also said he had arranged for athletes and coaches from African countries to receive scholarships to train at the famed Australian Institute of Sport in Adelaide ahead of the Sydney Games at a cost which turned out to be later reaching $2 million. a ploy he admitted was “very important” in securing the Games.

“Everywhere we went, the Chinese had set up a hospital…we were driving towards Mali and they were just like, ‘Oh, that’s the bridge the Chinese just built.’ And they were doing the same thing in the Pacific,” Coates recalled.

“Obviously our government doesn’t spend money like that… And so we came away with a set of scholarships for AIS and we were offering two athletes and a coach to come. The idea was that the coach would learn something and come back and be able to pass that on to a larger group of people. We got there and we saw what was happening in the real world.

“So I made the decision to do it – ‘well there’s a scholarship that we give out but if we win you get it every year for seven years and we’ll have a camp in Australia for all your teams before they don’t come here.’ And we did – we spent a lot of money.

An IOC spokesperson told the Guardian that none of its regulations at the time had been breached.

“At the time of the Sydney 2000 Candidature, financial support from a Candidate NOC to a Sports Development NOC was not provided for in the rules in force at the time. When this situation became public, it was declared that the rules at the time had not been broken. However, immediately thereafter, the rules of conduct for the following application process were changed in 2003.”

Lawyers for Coates said he had a long and distinguished reputation in the Olympic movement and the sports world and expressed concern that the excerpts were taken out of context. They added: “We are advised that the IOC has publicly confirmed that Mr Coates did not break its rules at the time.”

Ian Chesterman, Australia’s chef de mission at the Tokyo Olympics, succeeds Coates as AOC president after being elected by AOC delegates on Saturday.

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