Coates and Ellis hold crisis talks over Crawford report

Wednesday, 02 December 2009

December 2 - John Coates, the President of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), and the country's Sports Minister Kate Ellis (pictured) have held crisis talks over the controversial Crawford report.


Coates had accused Ellis of having "gone missing" after the report was released last month which he fears will lead to a reduction in the amount of funding Australia receives to prepare for the Olympics, including London 2012.


The two met in Melbourne on Sunday before Ellis flew to Cape Town as part of Australia's bid to host the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup and Coates was partially reassured by her response.


He said: "She said it was her intention to push the Government for more funding for both community sport and elite sport.


''Today we certainly have a warmer backdrop to this than we did before."


But Coates has nevertheless warned that Australia will be forced to send smaller teams to future Olympics and only athletes who have a chance of winning a medal, if the Government adopts the Crawford report, a view supported by a group of top athletes and influential administrators gathered together by the AOC.


Coates said: ''It is already more and more difficult for many of our sports just to qualify.


''If additional funding for our sports is not forthcoming it will be the case [that] some of our sports won't get there or will do so with token representation.''


He claimed that Australian Olympic teams could be cut from 430 participants to around 150.


He said: ''In summer sports alone we've medalled in 23 sports over the last 20 years."


The Crawford report has not explicitly recommended cutting Government funding for sport, but urged a dramatic re-prioritisation of community and non-Olympic sports, questioning why 80 per cent of the $100 million (£55 million) a year currently spent on sport by the Government goes to elite Olympic sports.


Coates has controversially compared the recommendations to the White Australia, that restricted "non-white" immigration to Australia from 1901 to 1973 because of fears that Asian or black migrants might be a threat.


Coates said: "To say that you can identify what sports represent the national ethos is almost going back to the White Australia days.


"In the last 25 years we've had major Asian immigration into this country and we should continue to offer a diversity of sports, including those that are of interest to Asian people such as badminton and table tennis.''



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