As many predicted, the
Melbourne Commonwealth Games have been a remarkable success. Arguably, the
attendances and facilities have even usurped those of any Olympic games (except
maybe Sydney). The success of the Games was
outlined by Caroline Wilson in The Age
who seemed to be the first commentator
to launch a public defence of Ron Walker and his decision to exclude alleged
traitor, Phil Coles from a free ride in Melbourne

Wilson noted that:

With the
benefit of hindsight, Ron Walker was right to refuse an official invitation to
Australian International Olympic Committee official Phil Coles to attend the
Melbourne Commonwealth Games. Some viewed the move as petty, or even
meaningless, because Coles probably wouldn’t have been desperate to attend
anyway.

But it made a
symbolic statement. Certainly Coles was not the only Sydneysider to damage
Melbourne’s 1996 Olympic
bid. Completing the triumvirate were Australian Olympic chief John Coates, now
an IOC delegate, who never truly believed in the bid, and the late Wilf Barker, the television network chief who set up Sports
Marketing and Management, which became the AOC’s marketing arm until after the
formation of SOCOG.

But damage it
he did. Constantly and from the start Coles criticised
Melbourne’s tactics,
offering very little in terms of constructive advice. His negative thoughts were
communicated not only to journalists but to powerful IOC delegates, some of whom
had been proven to be recipients of lavish hospitality, just as Coles
was.

Wilson
didn’t even mention the fact that Coles did more than merely criticise
Melbourne’s tactics. Rather, he
allegedly provided advice to
Melbourne’s chief rival
Atlanta on how to win the Games
(during the bid period, Coles called the
Atlanta team 44 times, presumably he
wasn’t trying to get the recipe for Coke).

However, despite the damning public evidence, Coles and
fellow alleged traitor John Coates remain entrenched on both the Australian and
International Olympic Committees.

If
Wilson’s views are
anything to go by, the Victorian (and possibly Australian) public still deserve
a Cole-style investigation into the activities of
Australia’s IOC
delegates in undermining Melbourne’s
bid. While no-one (except of course political commentators who have to earn a
living) gives a hoot about who and how much AWB bribed to sell wheat to Iraq – I
bet five million Victorians would care about continuing to fund the lavish
lifestyle of two alleged traitors.

Peter Fray

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