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Defiant Coates chases final Olympic legacy

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/05/2017

Under fire Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates remains optimistic that he has the numbers to be re-elected on Saturday, with a view to leading a bid to bring the Olympic Games to South East Queensland.

Coates is being challenged by Danni Roche, a Hockeyroos gold medallist, with a vote for the presidency at the AOC's annual general meeting in Sydney.

When asked in an interview with ABC's 7.30 if he thinks he will have enough votes to retain his position, Coates said: "I hope so."

"You have to always respect the electorate and that's what I'm continuing to do over the next few days."

Coates trumpeted his intention to give an "opportunity for South East Queensland and Australia" to bid for an Olympic games.

"We've authorised Brisbane and six supporting cities to do a feasibility study," he said.

"I've got the experience and what I want to do, whether it's 2028 or 2032 is to champion that, both in Australia and internationally."

Facing the first challenge to his AOC presidency in 27 years, Coates revealed his intention to allow newly-appointed CEO Matt Carroll to truly run the organisation.

"The executive will be able to determine how they want to use me outside of my IOC responsibilities," he said.

"I don't want to continue to be running the shop here at the AOC."

Coates slammed former AOC CEO Fiona de Jong, who left the organisation in December before alleging last month that she was threatened by the AOC media manager and Coates ally Mike Tancred.

Tancred subsequently stood down, pending an independent investigation into the alleged incident.

While with the AOC in various roles for 12 years Coates claimed she was not a capable CEO.

"I sent her to Harvard. We gave her every opportunity," Coates said.

"She came back, she didn't step up and I took back the responsibilities."

Coates again rejected allegations that he allowed a bullying culture at the AOC and apologised further for referring to the organistion as a "sheltered workshop" in an email to staff.

Meanwhile the AOC athletes' commission has committed its two votes to Coates on Saturday.

The commission issued a statement on Thursday night saying the decision was not a unanimous one but that the incumbent would be supported.

"The overwhelming response from the athlete population and alumni was that there is a desire for change. Opinions differed as to how this change should best be achieved," the commission statement read.

Amongst other things the commission said it supported was a review of the president's remuneration, an independent review of workplace culture at the AOC and a remediation of the relationship between the AOC and Swimming Australia.

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