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Olympics Chief Coates’ anger at Prime Minister’s Olympic Games non-attendance

Olympics Chief Coates’ anger at Prime Minister’s Olympic Games non-attendance
April 15, 2012

Prime Minister Julia Gillard's decision not to attend the London Olympics has upset Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates.

Coates told Fairfax newspapers that Prime Minister Gillard's decision not to attend the London 2012 Games in July would be disappointing for Australian athletes, stating "I thought London would be an absolute must for Julia, so I'm disappointed.

"It's a disappointment to us. It will be a disappointment to our team."

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said prime ministers rarely attend the Olympics, stating "this year, as has happened in the past, the Prime Minister will be represented by the Sports Minister."

Coates also expressed anger that Prim Minister Gillard will not attend the Australian Olympic Committee's 23rd June fundraising event in Melbourne.

The Prime Minister usually makes the keynote address at the dinner where 1,400 guests pay $22,000 for each table.

Prime Minister Gillard will be attending the G20 leaders meeting and the UN Sustainable Development Conference at the time of the dinner.

"It is crucial that the Prime Minister make Australia's voice heard at international meetings like these," her spokesman said.

"What John Coates didn't mention was that we offered alternative dates to the AOC - but the AOC turned them down."

Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan will represent the Government Gillard at the dinner.

Coates praised former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for his decision to attend the Olympics in Beijing, the first prime minister to do so since Malcolm Fraser in 1976, stating "Rudd got it."

Coates public criticism of the beleagured Prime Minister would appear to be payback for Federal Labor having failed to provide levels of funding for elite Olympic sport at levels desired by the AOC since the 2010 Federal Budget.


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