The President of the Australian Olympic Committee publicly lectured Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk about how to do her own job in front of the whole world. She, in return, handled the situation way more respectfully.
For context, we need to look back earlier this week. There had been a bit of a stir in Queensland as to whether or not Palaszczuk would attend the opening ceremony in Tokyo. She had previously intended to do so, but her office later confirmed she’d watch it from her hotel room amid rising COVID cases in Japan.
Then on Wednesday, hours before Brisbane was announced as the host city for the 2032 Olympics, AOC boss John Coates decided to lecture the Queensland Premier in front of literally everyone.
“You are going to the opening ceremony,” Coates said to Palaszczuk, as if she were a child.
“I’m still the Deputy Chair of the Candidature Leadership Group and so far as I understand, there will be an opening and a closing ceremony in 2032, and all of you have got 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?”
Palaszczuk looked visibly uncomfortable, as anyone would after being humiliated like that after having just secured the Olympics for your state.
Her response was diplomatic and – all things considered – respectful: “I don’t want to offend anybody, so…”
‘You are going to the opening ceremony.’ Here is that awkward exchange between AOC President John Coates and Queensland Premier @AnnastaciaMP at a media conference in Tokyo last night. #Brisbane2032 @BreakfastNews pic.twitter.com/bQqvFYyQla
— Michael Rowland (@mjrowland68) July 21, 2021
That’s when Coates doubled down. He really thought he did something here.
“You’ve never been to an opening ceremony at an Olympics Games, have you? You don’t know the protocols,” Coates said.
“I think it’s a very important lesson for everyone here. The opening ceremonies cost in the order of $75 to $100 million.
“It’s a major, major exercise for any organising committee and it puts the stamp on the games, it’s very important to the broadcasts that follow, and my very strong reccomendation is that the Premier, and the Lord Mayor, and the Minister be there, and understand it.”
Keep in mind, Palaszczuk is not the fucking creative director of the bloody opening ceremony. Sure, in a perfect universe it would be good-spirited to show up for the opening of the Tokyo games, but we’re in a global pandemic with other considerations to factor in.
Coates’ unprompted diatribe has recieved a massive backlash online, with Aussies slamming the incident as condescending, patronising and misogynistic.
“This is a diamond-perfect instance of a man who believes his own job and priorities and worldview are universal and another person’s failure to adopt them unquestioningly is evidence of stupidity or incomprehension on her part,” ABC journo Annabel Crabb wrote on Twitter.
“Amazing to see it performed so publicly.”
This is a diamond-perfect instance of a man who believes his own job and priorities and worldview are universal and another person's failure to adopt them unquestioningly is evidence of stupidity or incomprehension on her part. Amazing to see it performed so publicly. https://t.co/MSyBNsfnSD
— Annabel Crabb (@annabelcrabb) July 21, 2021
What a condescending, patronising man. How dare he tick off the Premier of Qld publicly as if she was a naughty schoolgirl? Takes me back to some similar moments in my own career. Too many men in power need to take a really hard look at themselves. https://t.co/hi9Yxs0QyB
— Jane Caro (@JaneCaro) July 21, 2021
You would think a woman being the premier of a whole-ass state would be enough to stop some dude who was good at sport in high school from thinking he can boss her around, but alas, jocks know no bounds.
— Matilda Boseley (@MatildaBoseley) July 21, 2021
Just helped secure the Olympics for Brisbane. Might go embarrass the Premier in front of a live global audience pic.twitter.com/cdriIQFjCG
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) July 21, 2021
On Thursday morning Palaszczuk cleared the air talking to the ABC.
“I’ve known John for years. So what’s happened now is that the Lord Mayor and the federal Minister and I are expected to go,” she said.
“So I will leave that to John Coates and [International Olympic Committee President] Thomas Bach. But let me make it clear – I am not going to offend anyone now that we’ve just been awarded the Games.”
It’s a cryptic answer befitting of someone who is indeed trapped between a rock and a patronising place. We’ll have to see what happens on the big night.