Coates says China human rights beyond IOC

Melissa WoodsAAP
AOC boss John Coates says China's humanitarian issues are not within the "remit" of the Olympics.
Camera IconAOC boss John Coates says China's humanitarian issues are not within the "remit" of the Olympics. Credit: AAP

Underlining Australia's commitment to the upcoming Beijing Winter Games, AOC president John Coates says China's humanitarian issues are not within the "remit" of the Olympics.

Australia is set to send a 41-strong team to the Games, which opens on February 4, and then nine athletes to the Paralympics.

There are ongoing threats of a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 event, citing human rights concerns amid reports of the genocide of the Uyghur population.

A 180-strong coalition of human rights groups are also pushing for a broadcast boycott.

The IOC has recently been praised for its work aiding Afghanistan athletes fleeing Taliban rule while Australia has resettled seven female taekwondo athletes.

But Coates, who is also vice-president of the IOC, said while human rights were an important part of the fundamental principles of Olympism, they had to respect the sovereignty of the host country.

"The IOC's remit is to ensure that there is no human rights abuses in respect of the conduct of the Games within the National Olympic Committee, or within the Olympic movement," Coates told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

"We have no ability to go into a country and tell them what to do."

"We are not a world government. We have to respect the sovereignty of the countries who are hosting the Games.

"The work the IOC is doing is to protect the Olympians and those involved in the Olympic moments, those who comprise the sports federation in Afghanistan - that's within our remit.

"The situations that you have referred to, the humanitarian ones in China, is not within our remit."

He also said it was a "badge of honour" that only Australia and Greece had attended every Games since 1896.

Beijing is set to be Coates' last Olympics at the helm of the AOC after announcing he will retire after more than 30 years as president, exiting on a high after helping Brisbane land the 2032 Games.

He will retire at the AGM next May.

The 71-year-old said he wouldn't be annointing a successor and would leave it to the AOC executive to decide.

"I think that from amongst the AOC executive at the moment, there's a number of them who could step up and do this," he said.

"We've got a very, very capable executive and I expect that they will reach a conclusion on who the preferred candidate is going to be."

He said he would remain a member of the AOC executive by virtue of his continuing role as an IOC member through to the Paris Games in 2024.

Currently on a salary of more than $500,000, Coates is expected to remain on the books as a consultant for Brisbane.

"My understanding is that if I'm to stay involved with Brisbane, then they would be looking at providing me with a consultancy, that's of the norm for a non-executive director of a large company, of around $150,000."

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