Australia’s highest-ranking Olympic official and current premier of the state of Queensland, where the 2032 Summer Games will be held, has given a preliminary test to the old adage that sport and politics do not mix.
BRISBANE, Australia — Australia’s highest-ranking Olympic official and current premier of the state of Queensland, where the 2032 Summer Games will be held, has tested the old adage that sports and politics don’t mix.
Palaszczuk indicated that she would stay in her hotel room.
This did not sit well with Coates, a powerful vice president of the IOC and one of the driving forces behind Brisbane, who had so quickly acquired the hosting rights without any real competition.
“You’re going to the opening ceremony,” Coates told Palaszczuk bluntly. “There will be an opening and a closing ceremony in 2032 and you all, everyone there, will have to understand the traditional parts of it, what is involved in an opening ceremony.
“None of you are staying at home and going to sit in your room.”
The premier did not respond to Coates’ suggestion and declined to say why she would not attend the ceremony – “I don’t want to offend anyone, so .. she told critics of her visit to Tokyo that she She was only attending the IOC meeting to make the final pitch for the Games and would not attend other events.
When Palaszczuk was asked why it would be more beneficial to sit in his Tokyo hotel room than to travel the relatively short distance to the National Stadium for the ceremony, he did not answer.
Coates did it on his behalf.
“You’ve never been to an opening ceremony,” he told Palaszczuk. “You don’t know the protocol and I think that’s a very important lesson for everyone here – the cost of the opening ceremony is on the order of $75 million to $100 million. I have a very strong recommendation that the Premier and the Lord Mayor and Minister be there and understand it.”
Monash University lecturer Tom Heenan in Melbourne, who specializes in the politics behind the Olympics, said such comments from an Olympic official “never fail to surprise me.”
“The IOC has set the stage, they are all powerful and political leaders have no problem setting the terms,” Heenan said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. “The fact that the head of the AOC said they should participate. Another sign of Olympic autocracy.”
Heenan said this is why the Tokyo Olympics are going ahead despite record new cases of COVID-19 in Japan.
“They tend to push public opinion aside in the middle of a pandemic,” Heenan said. “It is only up to the IOC to cancel. All power goes with them.”
At the Thursday morning breakfast show on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Palaszczuk had a change of mind, and was asked by the host: “So it’s effectively yes, will you attend the opening ceremony?”
Palaszczuk replied: “I’ll let them sort it out . . . Without saying who “they” were.
More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports