Little known to the general public, the septuagenarian Australian reigns like an emperor over the Olympic world. Investigation on the dubious methods of the most powerful man in world sport.
In spite of his thin mouth that painfully hides small canines, John Coates is a real shark. A fearsome Australian shark. A predator of the sport who makes the rain and the good weather in the international authorities. A voracious man who likes to eat his way through mandates. Both boss of the CAS and vice-president of the IOC, the man with the fox-colored hair is a feared man in the world of sport. A modest cricketer, he started rowing in 1967 at the age of 17. On the water, he fell in love with Pauline Kahl, a broad-shouldered international rower with whom he had six children. That same year, 1967, he experienced his first major failure when he failed the NSW Higher School Certificate exam. His father, a well-known lawyer from Strathfield, a wealthy district in the west of Sydney, was very angry.
The son managed to follow in his father’s footsteps by studying law at the University of Sydney. The young Coates was relatively eloquent and dreamed of a career as a civil servant in a sports administration rather than in the courtroom. Within the Sydney Rowing Club, John Coates patiently advanced his pawns by making himself to become a key figure. He quickly became one of the main leaders. But Coates wanted more. Always more. In 1976, despite his modest experience, the young man became director of the rowing section of the Australian team at the Montreal Olympic Games. Two years later, in 1978, he became Honorary Secretary of the Australian Amateur Rowing Council before becoming President six years later. In 1980, he opposed the boycott of the Moscow Olympics and even became administrative director of the Australian delegation. He participated in the seven following Olympics as head of mission. When we tell you that the man knows how to make himself indispensable…
Even Putin could be jealous
1981 marked a real turning point in his career. That year, the ambitious thirty-year-old joined the Australian Olympic Committee. Always with method and calculation, he climbed the ladder one by one. Eliminating opponents with the coolness and patience of an Inland Taipan, the most poisonous Australian snake in the world. Vice-president of the AOC in 1985, he became president five years later. The position was a good one. In addition to an annual salary of almost 700,000 Australian dollars, the media revealed that John Coates had paid himself more than 7 million Australian dollars in fees and allowances over 15 years. The “Machiavellian of Olympism”, as some Australian journalists call him, loves power and money. He quickly understood that the prestige of his position could offer him nice business opportunities. In the mid–90s, he joined forces with his counterpart Leo Wallner, president of the Austrian Olympic Committee and incidentally boss of the Austria casinos. The two businessmen invested seven million Australian dollars in the creation of a casino in Caims in the North-East of Australia.
“A money pit,” claims John Coates, hand on heart. The man who will celebrate his 71st birthday on May 7 still has more than one trick up his sleeve. His friend Thomas Bach, the IOC President, has granted him a waiver so that he can play the extra time within the IOC. Some suggest, like the German journalist Andreas Stummer, that he is the real boss of the Olympic body and that “the extent of his power could even make Vladimir Putin jealous! ”He knows what is said in front of the cameras and what is decided in the back room.”
And the man does not shy away from anything. During the IOC session in June 2019, his proposal for a new designation procedure is validated. From now on, a commission of future hosts will examine the files and make recommendations to the Executive Board which will validate the choice and submit it to the session for simple ratification! And guess what? On Wednesday, February 24, 2021, Thomas Bach and the IOC Executive Board unanimously decided to enter into a “focused dialogue” and exclusive with the Australian city of Brisbane and the province of Queensland for the award of the 2032 Olympic Games. “He was able to take advantage of all the changes in the awarding of the games in favor of Australia, because he himself played a leading role in this,” continues Andreas Stummer. That was legitimate.
But critics say it’s like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.”
In short, it’s all about making sure the Australian bid wins. It must be said that Coates is an adept at dirty tricks and has no scruples. He has neither the time nor the inclination.
The pots and pans of Sydney 2000
A key figure in Australia’s bid for the 2000 Olympics, he and his team influenced IOC members with favors including five-figure payouts and jobs for family members. The best and most eloquent summary of the case was given by the spokesman for the IOC sponsors. David D’Alessandro who, in the New York Times on February 14, 1999, wrote, without taking the piss:
“On January 22, John Coates, president of the Australian Olympic Committee, admitted to promising $35,000 each to two IOC members from Kenya and Uganda for their national sports federations – hours before the crucial selection of the site for the 2000 Summer Olympics. While there was later evidence of similar efforts by other bidders, the Sydney case is particularly clear. There was a clear attempt to influence the outcome of the selection process: Coates explained that he decided to do this so that ”I wouldn’t have to spend the rest of my life wondering why we didn’t win.
A bit provocative, he suggested privately that he might apply similar methods in the race for Brisbane 2032. An old friend commented, “John is out of his depth. All that money and absolute power has made him undrinkable. And since his recent marriage, he even pretends to be handsome when he’s ugly as a buffalo toad, a very common species in Australia. ”
A wedding that blows your mind
His wedding in October 2017 with the beautiful forty-year-old Orieta Pires made a lot of ink flow in the celebrity press of Sydney. “His new wife who displays herself in social networks as a hairdresser and makeup artist ”International “does not leave him a sole since 2014, the year of their engagement. ”He likes to ride it like a trophy for lack of having been able to brandish during his modest career as a sportsman,” persiflage an astute observer of the IOC backstage.
But Coates doesn’t care about the critics like his first shirt. He plots his course with sometimes the subtlety of a bulldozer.
As a member of the Tokyo 2021 advisory board and with uncertainty about whether the Tokyo Olympics will be held because of Covid 19, Coates likes to blow hot and cold as if to better subdue the host country. After saying recently that the Olympics should be cancelled if necessary, he is repeating over and over that they will be held with or without Covid. And that they will start on July 23. “Shamelessly departing from the tradition that the host country chooses its slogan, Coates imposed on Japan a pathetic ”light at the end of the tunnel” in reference to the pandemic while the Japanese wanted to make these Games those of rebirth after the ten years of the nuclear disaster of Fukoshima in 2011. But in 2021, the voice of a vice-president of the IOC weighs more than that of an emperor…