Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk ordered to attend Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony by IOC's John Coates
Amid the celebrations of Brisbane winning the right to host the 2032 Olympics, Australian Olympic Committee boss John Coates has ordered Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to attend the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony in an awkward public exchange.Key points:
- The Queensland Premier had previously insisted she was going to watch the ceremony on television from her hotel room
- But Mr Coates insisted she attend, telling her in front of a press conference she would need to learn about the traditions of the ceremony
- Ms Palaszczuk has since hinted she will go, saying she does not want to offend anyone
Ms Palaszczuk had previously insisted she was only going to watch Friday's opening ceremony at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium from her hotel in the Japanese capital.
The Queensland Premier had come under fire for travelling to Tokyo for the 2032 host announcement after pushing National Cabinet to reduce the number of international arrivals accepted by Australia due to the risk of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
But Mr Coates, sitting with his arms crossed and directing his comments towards the assembled journalists, issued a stunning rebuke, insisting the Queensland Premier could not "hide" in her room and ordered her to go to understand the "traditional" processes behind the opening ceremony, which can cost upwards of $75 million.
"You are going to the opening ceremony. I'm still the deputy chair of the candidature leadership group and so far as I understand, there will be an opening and closing ceremony in 2032 and all of you are going to get along there and understand the traditional parts of that, what's involved in an opening ceremony, so none of you are staying behind and hiding in your rooms, alright?" Mr Coates said.
Ms Palaszczuk, who remained largely silent and looked down at the desk in front of her, said she did not want to offend anybody.
Mr Coates added that he also expected Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and Sports Minister Richard Colbeck to attend.
"You've never been to the opening ceremony of an Olympic Games, have you? You don't know the protocols, I think it's a very important lesson for everyone here," he said.
"The opening ceremonies cost in the order of $75 million to $100 million, it's a major exercise for any organising committee.
"It puts a stamp on the Games and it's very important to the broadcasts that follow and it's my very strong recommendation that the Premier, and the Lord Mayor and the Sports Minister be there and understand it."Palaszczuk says she's 'all good' with Coates
Speaking on ABC News Breakfast, Ms Palaszczuk said she had no rift with Mr Coates over the public exchange.
"Yeah, absolutely. He's fantastic. If we didn't have John Coates, this would not have happened," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"John Coates has been the driving force behind us securing the Olympics. He has been able to get all levels of government to work together for us to have this bid and his engagement with the business community, his networks are absolutely phenomenal.
"I'm going to give credit where credit's due. It's great for him that he was there with Sydney [in 2000] and now he's ushered in this opportunity for Brisbane and Queensland."
Ms Palaszczuk said confusion about why she was not attending the ceremony from the start was "semantics" and she had only been invited since Brisbane had been announced as the successful bid for the 2032 Games.
She said it was expected by Mr Coates and IOC president Thomas Bach that the Australian delegation would attend the opening ceremony.
"What's happened now is that the lord mayor and the federal minister and I are expected to go. So I will leave that to John Coates and Thomas Bach [to sort out invitations]," she said.
"But let me make this very clear, I'm not going to offend anyone now that we've just been awarded the Games."
Mr Colbeck said he had already agreed he would be attending the important event.
"In my view, we've just been awarded the biggest sporting event on the planet. Being here, I should attend the opening ceremony so I will be," he said.