Sunday, 27 November 2011

Quiet Sir John

John Coates could talk under wet cement with a mouth full of marbles. Every two years at least, the man at the head of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) tells the country that our medal haul at the next Olympics will be significantly poorer than in previous campaigns. Basically, Sir John (as I am sure is preferred title) wants the Australian Government in conjunction with the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) to provide Olympic sports with more funding.

 The Government and ASC usually find a way to grant Sir John his request, usually in the lead up to the following Olympics.

Coates suggested a few weeks ago that Australia’s medal tally at the 2012 London Games could be as low as thirty. This of course is such a disaster and should be avoided at all costs. He further explained that Australia could finish as low as eighth in the medal tally at Rio Games in 2016.

The AOC is so desperate for more funding that they even suggested we should provide more funding to the sports of Boxing and Shooting. These two sports, particularly clay target shooting have a small following at the recreational level, but to suggest that we should provide these two sports with additional funding is crazy. Sports which are more popular at the community and grass roots level should be receiving more funding.

John  Coates, president of the Australian Olympic Committee
Image courtesy of  Sarah Ewart
The argument that gold medals at the Olympics inspire young Australians is often one of the key arguments from Coates, the ASC & Sports Minister Mark Arbib. They, of all people should know that this argument holds no substance whatsoever. There have been several academic research papers conducted on this topic and they have shown that Gold medals at the Olympics do not increase participation rates at the grass roots level.

With the increasing rates of obesity in the Australian population, it is irresponsible to provide more funding to Olympic sports. While there is no argument that high levels of funding result in more medals, there is nothing wrong with winning thirty medals at any Olympics and finishing 8th in the medal tally. It is not a failure as Sir John suggests.

It is about time John Coates kept quiet and stopped whingeing. If it is not about the lack of funding the Olympics receives ($700 million is such a measly amount), then he is complaining how the Crawford Report will ruin Australian Sport.

If there was a skerrick of evidence to back up Coates claims, I wouldn’t have such a problem. Until then, Australia would be better off he kept his mouth shut.

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