IOC: The obscure Games of Thomas Bach and John Coates


How the President of the International Olympic Committee is plotting behind the scenes with his Australian Vice President to make Brisbane the sole favourite to host the 2032 Olympic Games. An Inquiry.

While the air of the time is rather one of transparency in the geopolitics of sport, the IOC seems to be returning to the Stone Age and their legendary tricks. Judge for yourself: on Wednesday 24 February, Thomas Bach and the IOC Executive Board unanimously decided to enter into an exclusive “focused dialogue” with the Australian city of Brisbane and the province of Queensland with a view to awarding the 2032 Olympic Games. From now on, the Committee of Future Hosts examines the files and makes recommendations to the Executive Board, which validates the choice and submits it to the session for simple ratification.

A process that was opaque to say the least, as Norwegian Kristin Kloster Aasen did not even publicly reveal the names of the other candidate cities! An obscure but not so strange way of designation when we know that this new designation procedure has been proposed by the Australian…John Coates during the IOC session in June 2019. John Coates, a big name in the world of sport, IOC Vice-President, he is also president of the Supervisory Board CIAS of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). With his little glasses, his pinched lips and his red hair, the sexagenarian looks like a Presbyterian priest to whom one would give the good Lord without confession. Distrustful, John Coates is a real little devil.

Looking back: John Coates was a key figure in Australia’s bid for the 2000 Olympic Games. He and his team influenced IOC members by offering favours, including five-figure payments and jobs for family members. The best and most eloquent summary of the affair was given by the spokesperson for the IOC sponsors, David D’Alessandro, who, in the New York Times on February 14, 1999, wrote in a blunt way: “On January 22, John Coates, president of the Australian Olympic Committee, admitted that he had pledged $35,000 each to two IOC members from Kenya and Uganda for their national sports federations – hours before the crucial choice of venue for the 2000 Summer Olympics. Although there was later evidence of similar efforts by other bidders, the Sydney case is particularly clear. There was an obvious 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.“

If Coates has been cleared of any corruption charges by the IOC, he is dragging this dirty story like a millstone around the neck. Incorrigible, he suggested, in private, that he could apply similar methods in the race for 2032. John Coates is the man who whispers in Thomas Bach’s ear.

It’s as simple as that within the IOC. Who talks to whom and when, on what basis what is discussed, who proposes which concepts – you can hardly check anything anymore. It was already difficult in the old system, but back then it was still possible to make a rudimentary comparison of the Olympic bids. This has now become completely impossible for the public. The rules for doing so were changed in the June 2019 session. Bach, of course, sells the new system as a “revolution”, a vocabulary he still used on Wednesday, February 24. Elements of language skillfully distilled by Coates to hide the triumphant return of the dark ages.