V/o: The Olympic movement is embroiled in a scandal that's overshadowed the Sydney 2000 Games.
"Obviously allegations of bribery and corruption are pretty hideous and pretty sinister and do no good for the Olympic ideal".
V/O: Sydney has been caught in the culture of the International Olympic Committee -
a secret world of money, patronage and power.
"The IOC until this recent set of scandals that surround it had an aura that almost put it on the right hand of God."
Coates on doorstop
V/O: Australia's own Lord of the Rings and master Olympic deal-maker has found himself centre-stage, fighting accusations that he bought the Games.
Reporter: Is this "sanctioned bribery?" Coates: " It is not."
V/O: But the real battle over the Sydney Olympics has been a ruthless power struggle behind the scenes.
(McGeoch) "We went through a period where the board became unworkable.." (CUT)
".. the chairman saying well I can't continue here and then unless Mr Coates says I can."
(Richardson) "I think John Coates is a lot tougher than I am."
(Knight) "He's very clever, certainly cleverer than me."
(Coates) "I'm gonna fight very hard for the future of the Australian Olympic Committee and if that's tough, so be it. Q: Bloody-minded even? Coates:Well if it's necessary, sure."
V/O: Tonight on Four Corners..
The political blood sport -behind the Games.
Atkinson: Politics has always been nasty Yes it has been nasty and I think it's er been very unfortunate and unpleasant.."
"Do you think there's any sign of it letting up? Noooo."
Title" Blood Sport"
AOC Xmas party..
In the role of master of ceremonies, Australia's Olympics supremo,
.. former rower, sports administrator, businessman, lawyer, and president
of the AOC.
There was good reason for celebration.
John Coates has turned Sydney 2000
into a goldmine for the AOC..
and himself into the key powerbroker
of the Games.
Fleming:"John Coates is one of the most well-respected and probably well-liked people in sport.."
"You know he is incredibly politically astute. He's a very smart man and absolutely has the um, has the Australian Olympic movement foremost in his mind.."
"He has ensured that Australian sport will continue to be successful and financially successful well and truly after the 2000 Olympic Games have finished".
"John Coates is er one of the most amazing people in Australia today..." "He's one of the ultimate Macchiavelian figures in Australian life today. He would have made a great politician. He'd probably be Prime Minister now if he'd gone into politics. He's very bright always looking at er the next move. While other people are concentrating on the here and now, he's working out the machinations of the next move. That's why he always wins game, set and match each time."
Q: People describe you as a consummate politician. The term Macchiavellian is used. How do you see your approach to running the AOC?
"Um, well I guess I'm thoughtful, and I've always tried to position the AOC, um you know to play a significant role in whatever it does." (CUT)
"I've been very anxious to ensure that the AOC is independent of govt, and um I guess that's dominated a lot of my thinking, and that um you know, we aren't controlled by
government." Q: Macchiavelian? (shrugs and smiles ) "Whatever it takes".
This is the story of a long and hard-fought power struggle over the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
At stake has been control of the biggest event in the world... and the political and financial spoils that come with it.
It's a story of cut-throat politics and deal-making... which has claimed a long list of casualties along the way.
It has its roots in the culture of the IOC..
a culture in which sport has been eclipsed by money, politics and winning whatever the price.
SOCOG press conference,
Coates & Knight arrive
V/O: A key factor in John Coates' winning statergy has been the forging of a brutally efficent alliance with the minister for the Olympics, Michael Knight.
Knight jokes at start "Is this small gathering just the Xmas wind-down or because nobody's resigning?" ha ha ha
Knight & Coates
V/O: Knight is the frontman.. Coates the master controller behind the scenes.
It's been a bruising experience for anyone who's got in their way.
"Look living in Sydney and living in NSW politically is like living in the Balkans. I mean this is a tough town, you're either with people or you're against them."
"I think the politics in sport are far more vicious than I've ever seen in normal politics.
I mean I have probably never imagined the viciousness of politics and they seem to have arisen in SOCOG like they do in other sporting bodies."
Q: Your govt and you in particular have been accused of politicising the Games?
"The Games inevitably have a political dimension that's not a party political dimension.
The politics of dealing with the IOC, the politics of running the board, the politics of dealing with the media, ensure that the Games always have a political dimension."
Knight ends press conference
"Thank you all, have a merry Xmas, we'll see you in the New Year, thanks for the year, it's been interesting."
End of press conference, as Knight & Coates leave..
Olympic politics have consumed Sydney ever since it set out to win the Games.
The Olympic Games are owned by Juan Samaranch's IOC.
Each four years they're auctioned off to the highest bidder.
"Did you get the soccer balls?" etc.
"The system of bidding for the Games is absolutely hideous. Um here you've got, you know, six world-class cities as it was in the case of Brisbane. You've got six world-class cities saying pick us, pick us, pick us, um and each trying to do better than the last one. So you know you hear that um, say you know, Barcelona's taking people for holidays, well we better give ‘em two holidays, um and there's a bit of you know, trying to outdo the other and trying to cap it. Now that always is going to lead to things that are not quite proper, shall we say."
V/O: John Coates' revelation last month that he offered 35-thousand-US dollars in funding to two African delegates to induce them to vote for Sydney made news around the world.
Coates grab from Saturday's doorstop
"This is sanctioned bribery - is that what this is? (smiles) "It's not. It's not. This is assistance to athletes and coaches and to the national Olympic Committees of countries that have an IOC member."
V/O: Coates was unfazed.
For this veteran of three bids and twenty years in the Olympic movement, it was just another deal.
Grab from Coates
"If you want to get someone's vote you have to ask them for the vote and create a sense of having some obligation to you when they go into that room"
"I don't know what people expect, if, if they expect that you send out a brochure of how pretty Sydney is, with a letter saying we're going to build lots of nice facilities, would you please vote for us, and think that's gonna win you an Olympic Games, you've gotta be kidding. Of course you've got to go out there and try and win votes, and er.. Q: Buy votes? Well I mean, you can call it buying votes if spending money on sport in Africa is buying votes, I mean you can call it that, I wouldn't."
V/O: The bidding war is fuelled by the pot of gold at the end of it.
For governments it's the political prestige and potential boost to the economy.
For the Olympic Committee of the host country, it's the sporting glory and the enormous financial windfalls, divvied up with the IOC.
"I saw the IOC up fairly close up and I've expressed my view of that, it really repelled me..."
"I felt that it was an organisation dedicated to enhancing its revenue through the value of its intellectual property, the rings, and that the sport became far sort of below that as a priority."
Olympic rings, eg. flag fluttering
Flag sequence (handover of Olympic
flag to Sydney)
The Olympic rings are the most lucrative
marketing symbol in the world..
a veritable licence to print money.
The opening masterstroke of the Australian Olympic Committee was securing the rights to the rings,
in the lead up to the Sydney Games.
"I was approached by Kevan Gosper who was the president of the AOC around this time in 1986 to do what the Olympic Commitee, the International Olympic Committee had wanted the govt to do for years, to give govts or give the National Olympic Ctees control over the marketing rights of the five Olympic rings, the word Olympic and the Olympic motto "citius, altius, fortius". I think the US had done it but no-one else had at that stage and we introduced this bill into parltiament called the Olympic Insignia protection bill which meant that the AOC had total marketing rights over those symbols and mottos.'
"I don't know but one of the reasons for doing it is to make the Olympic Ctee independent of govt handouts."
Q: And the Olympic movement was so chuffed that Samaranch gave you the Olympic order for this?
"Yes, I got the Olympic order but so did Idi Amin, Mr Caucescu, there's been a few villains and vagabonds who got the Olympic order."
World Cup Swimming
V/O: Owning the rings was just one part of the AOC's grand plan.
In 1993 John Coates talked $135-million-dollars out of the Keating government..
.. for a program aimed at ensuring a record gold medal tally in 2000.
Swimming.. Aussie boys line up
Announcer: "In lane three, representing Australia, Grant Hacket... (continues through Thorpe, Kowalski, Perkins)(lots of applause.. )
But Coates' main agenda has been to
use the Sydney Olympics... to set up the AOC financially for life.
"This is the legacy for Australian Olympic sport, post the Games. Um the ‘84 Olympics delivered for American sport 300-odd million dollars, Calgary I think was some 50 million to the Olympic C'tee. I think Nagarno's turned out at around 100. This is the one chance to um set the Australian Olympic Ctee up and to continue to fund the athletes and our sports at the level we're now doing."
"Take your mark.." starter sounds..
To ensure the AOC brought home its
own gold, John Coates engineered
a series of extraordinary deals..
which delivered his committee control
of the Games...
..and a huge financial windfall.
It began with the bid.
"A city cannot bid without the endorsement of the National Olympic Committee in that country. And what the Australian Olympic Committee recognised is that you could charge for giving that consent. Now I think that is bordering on the iniquitous because what's happened is that everybody now around the world has recognised this technique."
"So that it's a way of getting money for the Olympic Movement and the Australian Olympic Committee demonstrated that in spades".
Q: The people who were involved in those negotiations say that basically you had them over a barrel?
"Well they wanted to bid, yeah. See if they, if they didn't want to, we wouldn't have gone ahead - if it wasn't on terms and conditions acceptable to us."
V/O: The terms and conditions of the AOC's support were set out in a document called the Endorsement contract
The AOC demanded $60m to buy out its marketing rights over the rings.
The NSW government would construct all the venues and underwrite all the costs.
The Games would be run by a private company owned by the AOC.
So taxpayers would foot the bill, but
have virtually no say in the Games.
Q: How much say did the govt of the day have over the conditions of that deal?
"Well we could either take it or leave it. I mean if we wanted to leave it, sorry hello,
er hello Melbourne, or hello Brisbane. Um and so that er, it was, it was a very strong leverage."
Q: John Coates' position was basically sign here or you don't get the Games?
Archive - Samaranch's announcement
sot... "And the winner is... Sydney!"
scenes of jubilation
more shots of Fahey
While Sydney celebrated, that night in
Monte Carlo the next contract was being signed..
It provided a new win and more leverage for the Australian Olympic Committee.
The Host City Contract guaranteed the AOC 90% of the profits from the Games... The remaining 10% would go
to Samaranch's IOC.
But the Premier of the time John Fahey was determined to carve out a bigger stake for the government.
He set out to win back some control of the Games.
"John said look, you know the state is underwriting, the state is providing the venues, it would be irresponsible if we were to go ahead and not have some say on the organising committee. And I also, he, his advice was that it, or the advice to him was that a better form to run the Games would be a statutory authority with the checks and balances that come with that, rather than a company of the Australian Olympic Committee's. And so we said sure."
So John Coates did another deal.
But there was a very big catch.
A statutory authority with a board answerable to the government would be set up to run the Games.
The catch came in the form of a secret condition insisted on by the AOC.
Coates got himself a veto over the appointment of certain board directors, including the president, chief executive and senior staff.
In order to maximise the AOC's 90% profit, he also secured a veto over the budget for running the Games.
Q: What was your rationale there?
"Oh, to protect the profit. This is the legacy for Australian Olympic Sport."
Q: Why do you think John Fahey wouldn't have been keen for this deal to be made known?
"I suppose he didn't want to be the premier of a state and be seen to have his powers fettered in some way".
Q: What was your reaction when you learned how much influence those contracts gave to the AOC and its President?
"I thought that the ah president has been looking after the AOC very well and it appears that the govt's interests have not been as well looked after by the government."
V/O: This deal, which led to the establishment of the Sydney Organising Committee, SOCOG, set the stage for the bitter conflicts to come.
"I move in reasonable circles around this city, on boards and business groups, and they are absolutely staggered that a private individual has these kinds of powers over a govt statutory authority".
(Baxter, tape 26, 16.26)
"I think the major view was that the basic structure was inherently unstable, that there were too many fundamental conflicts of interest which were going to be difficult to resolve."
The conflicts were played out in a blistering boardroom battle over the financial spoils of the Games.
It began in late 1995, when John Coates - eager to maximise the profit - moved to assert his budget veto
"Well John Coates, on behalf of the Australian Olympic Committee, um presented written advice to the board, which we were all um provided with. Q: Legal advice? Yeah, I mean yeah, I mean it's a letter but it has a strong legal import in it because it's an analysis of the relationship between the AOC and SOCOG and it basically put the view.."
"that SOCOG was, in some circumstances if not all, the agent of the AOC."
"There was a degree of er, bewilderment, amazement around the board table, and there were a few of us who'd been involved in these sorts of situations in our life in the public sector, and we reached a view that this was quite crazy.."
"Now I for one, you know, and I mean I've been around a while a practice of law in my day, it had never occurred to me that out of all of the documents we could have ended up as the agent of the Austn Olympic Ctee. And I don't think it would occur to anybody out on the street and the taxpayer either, that that's really ultimately one man's view of what we were".
Shots of board..
Coates' ultimatum quickly escalated into a crippling legal dispute.
Q: You were basically threatening to sue directors if your profit wasn't guaranteed?
"Sure, they realised they didn't have an indemnity and they'd be responsible for their actions. Q: That's a fairly ruthless way of going about getting what you want, isn't it?
"Yeah. But again, it was um, you know this was a big opportunity for the Australian Olympic Committee".
"I think it would have been a bizarre situation, knowing the degree of public funding behind the AOC and behind SOCOG, for taxpayers funds to be used to have the chairman of the AOC suing the directors of SOCOG or vice versa, the directors of SOCOG suing the AOC."
V/O:For meeting after meeting, the board was paralysed into indecision, for fear of being sued by the AOC.
"We went through a period where the board became unworkable"
Q: One director has told us that you were holding the board to ransom?
(nods) "Oh, I just wanted an outcome, didn't I?
archive, Pemberton quits
V/O: Coates' ruthless quest for his outcome claimed its first casualty.
Gary Pemberton, the highly respected chairman of Qantas, resigned as president of the deadlocked SOCOG board.
"Every Olympic Games has its share of politics and they come and go and I'm not sure whether we are waxing or waning at the moment, but I suspect that will continue for another four or five years one way or another."
"I think um that Gary Pemberton found that just too difficult in the end. I mean
you know he was a very experienced chairman, used to running organisations,
finding himself sort of having to refer that the agenda, the business, the way
ahead, to the president of the AOC, who was in affect saying, you know, unless
you deal with business in the way I want it handled, then all of you could be culpible
in some way".
V/O:Pemberton's departure left SOCOG in turmoil, and Coates still pushing for an outcome.
"Everyone on the board was frustrated. John Coates was frustrated too, because he didn't have any certainty in the way in which he could move forward. And it was my role to come in and negotiate a deal to remove that impasse, to ensure the legacy for the athletes, but also to ensure that SOCOG could function."
Knight at Tennis Centre in hard hat
V/O: Michael Knight had become Minister for the Olympics when Bob Carr's Labor government was elected in 1995.
vs at Tennis centre
A former builders laborer and TAFE teacher from the western suburbs,
Knight got himself fast-tracked into Cabinet by switching to the powerful NSW Right of the ALP..
He was mentored by his friend Graham Richardson, who was later made a member of the SOCOG board.
Knight having a hit with Newcome.
Knight has thrown himself into the
game of Olympic politics with a vengeance.
He rarely misses a photo opportunity..
And from the start he's taken a hands-on approach to running the Games.
(Knight) "The organisational side with the govt was in a bit of a mess. I was staggered to find that 18m after the bid had been won there wasn't any plan for construction at Homebush, nothing had happened effectively in that 18m between the winning of the bid and the change of the govt. And I was really surprised that there was no master plan for Homebush, so things needed to move very quickly."
But the most urgent priority back in 1996 was resolving the stalemate on the SOCOG board, over the budget veto held by John Coates and the AOC.
It fell to Knight's mate Graham Richardson to broker a deal.
"Well Graham Richardson is a friend of mine and a friend of John Coates and, Graham kept urging the two of us to talk and at the time it was getting fairly acrimonious in public and Graham helped in that process of bringing
"the board were getting letters from up-market firms of Sydney solicitors about who was right, who was wrong, who had what power - and the thing was a joke and it couldn't proceed like that, and you know over time it just wasn't getting any better. And it got to the stage really where something had to be done to sort the Olympics out. There needed to be a solution."
The solution was found over dinner for three at a restaurant in Sydney's Chinatown.
It became known as the Night of the
(Richardson) "We er, went down to the House of Guangzhou and we had a - pretty nice meal..."
"Typical of him, he arrived late. So Michael was there and I arrived and um this is it, this is the end of a day when we've been slanging at each other and the media and Graham's not there to broker anything. And um, so it was um, it was a cool
reception. But anyway when Graham got there, we got talking and um really it was
a continuation in the negotiation."
Q: What was the deal that was done?
"Oh the deal was done was that I would guarantee off the TV rights a fixed sum for the AOC and in return they would give up their veto power."
vision - clinking of glasses,
John Coates had pulled off another fabulous deal..
In return for giving up its budget veto and 90% share of the profits, the AOC
was guaranteed a fixed sum of one-hundred-million-dollars.
"$100m was agreed to be paid to the AOC, interestingly though not out of the profit of the Games but out of the initial revenue of the Games. In other words the AOC gets
its 100 off the top before we work out whether we've got a profit, so again
pretty clever negotiation you'd have to say."
Q: There is a view that on this occasion that you, like the previous govts, were
out-negotiated by Coates?
"Well I was starting from a position where the previous govt had given everything away and I was able to claw some back".
**GRAPHIC - showing makeup of
V/O: The first the board knew of it was after the deal had been done. /But Coates was one step ahead again.
Far from relinquishing power, he insisted on a clause that would cement his control of the Games.
A body called the Sports Commission was set up under SOCOG, chaired by Coates and controlled by the AOC..
..Graham Richardson is a member too.
Under the deal the Sports Commission was delegated all of the board's responsibilities to do with sport.
The Sports Commission is a permanent body whose decisions can't be changed.
It can't be abolished, nor can its role be altered.. without the agreement of the presidents of SOCOG and the AOC.
The Sports Commission is now responsible for everything deemed "sports specific" or "sports related".
Its duties are listed in a report submitted by SOCOG to the IOC.
They includes - competitions, scheduling, facilities, equipment, the Olympic village... transport, accommodation and security for athletes and officials...
Media Operations, Ceremonies...
The list goes on and on.
In short, John Coates' Sports Commission now has complete autonomy over much of the running of the Games.
"Here we were having passed off to a group of, what is it, 5 or 6 the entire responsibility of the 15 of us. And a few of us said, you know, this is an extraordinary sort of outcome,
er or abrogation of corporate governance principles. But it was part of a deal, er it had been done, as part of a deal."
Q: People are concerned that the Sports Commission does have that power, that its decisions can't be challenged and that the SOCOG board need know nothing about them.
"Well we do tell them, um the..Q: After the event? "Yeah, sure, they get the minutes of our um meetings, and they get, they see the register of all our policy decisions. And I'm available at all the baord meetings to um answer any questions they may have in respect of that, but they can't change our decisions, no. And if I was gonna set up the Sports Commission and was gonna have those powers, why would I let them?"
"We have a legal opinion now that um suggests that the Sports Commission um may have to improve its reporting um in order to meet the requirements of State Law."
Archive... Knight & Coates together on boat.
V/O:The deal that gave the AOC $100m and control of the Sports Commission marked the start of a firm friendship between John Coates and Michael Knight.
Q: Who's actually running the Games?
"I see it's a combination of a duopoly of power. Michael Knight and John Coates, and with support being given by Graham Richardson who knows how to make things happen."
This alliance would soon prove crucial
to Michael Knight's own ambitions to carve out an even greater role..
... paving the way for his takeover
as president of SOCOG.
pause / sot / music
"It was in July in Atlanta
"that I said to Michael that I
"er, I came to the conclusion this was too big and that we would be better off having
the minister as also our president and directly therefore involved."
"Oh I didn't want people to think that the government was trying to grab power for the
sake of grabbing power. But after the difficulties they had in Atlanta, it became
obvious that if the big powerful US couldn't get the Games right with all of their
advantages, what hope did poor little Sydney have unless we put the muscle
of the govt behind what was happening."
Iliffe archive.. in Atlanta
The only obstacle to Knight's takeover as president... was the president at the time..
John Iliffe, the chairman of Woolworths, who'd replaced Gary Pemberton back in March 1996.
Q: AOC people had made it clear that their view was it was time Iliffe was replaced?
"Yeah, everyone was in agreement. I mean it was um unanimous and ah, even in, I think it was also in John's best interest himself."
Press conf, Iliffe quits..
Iliffe went quietly.
(Knight) "He is a person who has taken an unselfish attitude. He has seen a structural problem. He has come up with a structural solution."
"It is not a backward step."
"Oh if John didn't support it, it would never happen."
"Sometimes you've got to do things you may not necessarily like, ah, but if it's, at the end of the day it the result's achieved that we want to achieve then it's worth it. Q: So the end justifies the means? Yeah, yeah."
**SOCOG board meeting, Knight's first
as chairman, Sept 19 ‘96.
Michael Knight took over as president of the board of SOCOG in September 1996.
"When Michael Knight crowned himself as the chairman of the SOCOG board as well as being the minister then it was evident that it was being drawn very close to the government and it was being politicised." "..it is evident that people have been chosen not only for their skills ‘cause there's some very talented people amongst that lot, but also because of their political allegiance, people you can trust, people who are part of the old boys network of the ALP."
"Well from time to time the Opposition run around talking about the Labor Party takeover. That's something the Opposition talk about, we run a team approach."
"Um it has been commented to me at the um, at the highest level, that this is an unusual situation, and that there is a concern in the IOC at er, the Games being perceived to be so political."
(Coles) "It has been said that it's the most political they've seen."
V/O: The politics have also led to repeated clashes with the federal government.
Q: What sorts of difficulties did you encounter when you were negotiating the provision of federal services for the Olympics? What was going on behind the scenes?
"Well mostly er needless leaks with a hostile spin on them, er, which were designed to inflict damage, political damage on me or the Prime Minister or the Federal Govt. And er this was quite regular".
Knight's takeover as president would intensify the political turmoil, and speed up the revolving door at SOCOG.
Chief executive Mal Hemmerling found himself next in the firing line.
Hemmerling had been appointed by Gary Pemberton after nine years running the Adelaide Grand Prix.
But he failed to win the support of either the AOC or Minister Knight.
"Some of the physical actions of Mr Knight indicated that. For instance he established himself an office a couple of doors away from Mr Hemmerling's office in the SOCOG building. He brought in one of his own staffers for a considerable length of time, er in the weeks leading up to Mr Hemmerling's departure, and Mr Knight started to assume
some of the day to day responsibilities of actually running the SOCOG organisation."
Q: Did Mal Hemmerling have your and Michael Knight's support?
"He, um, didn't have my full support, um you know, near the end
of his term. Only you'd have to ask Michael Knight."
(Knight, tape 29, 2.14)
"I'm not going to bag Mal Hemmerling. I've never bagged Mal Hemmerling in public. Indeed I don't bag him in private. Mal Hemmerling made a decision to resign, that was his decision. I said at the time I would not bag him publicly and I certainly won't change from that now."
** newspaper headlines..
But from late ‘96 the manoeuvring was underway.
Knight and Coates gave a private briefing to editors of the Fairfax newspapers..
The message was that SOCOG was in disarray, and in no shape to run the Games.. Key positions remained vacant, preparations had barely begun.
The resulting headlines said it all.
.. Games in crisis.. Knight steps in.
Q: Why were you privately telling senior journalists about what was going wrong under Hemmerling in a private meeting, knowing that it would be in the newspapers the next day? Er, we never said any such thing."
"I don't recall if, if, you know, what, you know, we no doubt, we talked about staff, but I don't recall the extent of it. Q: That was seen as a deliberate move to undermine Mal Hemmerling? "Oh was it? OK".
News conf, Hollway's appointment
The following month a former Canberra bureaucrat, Sandy Hollway, an old colleague of Graham Richardson, was appointed deputy CEO.
(Richardson, p.19 / tape 33, 2.36)
"There needed to be a new Chief Executive, we had to find one,
and I rang Sandy Hollway and said, listen, if you ring these guys, they'll talk to you."
"Graham I think had known me, ah, when I was er, working in the public service in Canberra and probably especially when I was chief of staff to the er Prime Minister Bob Hawke. Um he ah, therefore, he was one of the people who talked to me and said er, look Sandy, not twisting your arm, ah but er please consider this."
Q: But at the time it was actually the Deputy CEO's position he was taking initially?
"Oh yeah, but I think everyone knew what was going on. I think I had no doubt, Michael Knight had no doubt and I don't think Sandy had any doubt either."
Q: That Mal Hemmerling would be leaving and Sandy would be taking over?
Sandy Hollway got his promotion just three months later, when Hemmerling's resignation was announced by Michael Knight.
(McGeoch, p.18) (**thought-track)
"It was a sad day for him, er, when he felt he had to resign, and he went with a
great deal of sympathy from the staff."
staff applause continues..
Ignoring orders to get back to their offices, staff turned out to vent their anger at Hemmerling's treatment.
The board meanwhile staged a show of support for Michael Knight.
"Well we were all a bit like, you know, in the school football photograph, standing behind the press table as both Michael Knight and Mal Hemmerling made their remarks. And um it was, I don't, you know, I felt fairly uncomfortable standing there, but you know, you're on a board of a company, you happened to be going through a difficult moment, that goes with the territory. I mean, I think if, if you're asked to stand there, you stand there."
Nine months later Graham Richardson received his reward.
In December ‘97, he was appointed by John Coates and the Sports Commission as mayor of the Olympic village.
Richardson at press conference
"This has nothing to do about politics this job. This job is to ensure that when they're trying to get the right food, culturally or for their religion, when the tap leaks, when anything goes wrong, it gets fixed and gets fixed quickly..'
"I knew we had to have a mayor and some deputies. And I wanted someone first who was a member of our Sports Commission, so Graham was on the Sports Commission, former minister for sport. Um and I thought from my dealings with him that he had all of the necessary characteristics to be a very successful mayor..."
"I think we always knew there was gonna be an argument about it, um, I am a controversial figure."
Q: What was your reaction when that was announced?
"Er drop-jawed, I must say".
"Yes there was outrage from the rest of the board that we had the power to do it".
"I said Graham can you understand that I find trouble having the mayor of our Olympic village which is going to welcome all of the people of the world, that you're there on behalf of Australia and yet half of Australia doesn't like you".
Q: And what was your response to the outrage expressed by some directors?
(shrugs and smiles) So what. Q: So what? Yeah. That, you know, that is the power of the Sports Commission."
Electioneering, Chikarovsky on the
With a state election due next month, the political brawling has broken out again.
The coalition has moved to make the Games an election issue..
saying it wants to appoint a non-politician as SOCOG president, and remove Graham Richardson as mayor.
(Ron Phillips, p.3)
"We believe we need to send a signal to the community to lift the cloud off the Olympics, of the de-politicising the Games."
Q: The coalition has said that it wants to dump Graham Richardson if it wins the election?
"Well they can't."
(Richo, p.8, 9.29)
"They know they can't push me out, make me get out, so they have to persuade me out. And I don't know how they propose to do that, but I wish them luck. Q: Will you step down if they ask you to? No."
Q: The coalition also says it wants to separate the roles of minister and SOCOG president?
I won't agree."
Well they're still saying they want to do it?
"But they can't. End of story? End of story."
(Coles, p.10 / tape 22, 11.00)
Q: Would it be better if the current government is re-elected at the election?
"Ah obviously it would be, yeah."
Q: So that'd be the AOC's preferences?
"Well it would be the preference of everyone organising the Games. I mean it'd be a smooth er flow-through it, that we'd obviously wouldn't, wouldn't desire a massive change if anything."
Corrs Xmas party
sot.. music/crowd noise
The political manoeuvring over who should be president erupted just before Christmas, in the most acrimonious falling-out of all.
At the centre of it was the man who'd been the public face of the Sydney Olympics.
Xmas party chat re Olympics
Rod McGeoch led Sydney'sbid.
He's the latest and best-known casualty of the bitter conflicts behind the scenes.
"I took the view that I was in a tornado of some kind of smear campaign and I just wasn't prepared to put up with it."
The tide started running against McGeoch late last year, after he'd been touted as a likely future president of SOCOG under a coalition government.
But resentment had been simmering.
"The animosity that's run around between certain of the senior Olympic officials and myself, I'm aware of and I've always got to deal with, I mean it generally - the higher the level of publicity Rod McGeoch gets, the more anxious they seem to get, and then I get myself into trouble".
"Rod was promoted that way by the, whoever was doing it, as Mr Olympics and the Olympic hero and all that sort of thing and yes I suppose that upset a few people,
but, er, um so what".
Q: You have made it clear and had previously made it clear that you would never support Rod McGeoch for the position of President. What's the reason for that?
"Well I don't think it's um, that's a matter that needs to be aired. It was just a conclusion that um, I , the AOC - and that's Phil Coles as well at the time - came to prior to the vote in Monte Carlo, but it was, it was a decision that we wouldn't support him as Chief Executive, nor as the, as the President."
Rod McGeoch at podium at Xmas party
McGeoch had built a lucrative new career on the success of Sydney's bid.
He wrote a book.. picked up a string of consultancies.. and became a favorite on the speakers circuit.
At one point he used his private marketing company to try to sell new broadcast technology to the IOC.
He was also a paid adviser on the Athens bid for the 2004 Games...
for a fee rumored in government and Olympic circles to have been a-million-dollars...
McGeoch says it was considerably less.
Q: Did you ever see any conflict in any of your activities, like working on the Athens bid for example? No, I mean again, it's my bid experience, you know, SOCOG is about
organising an event that's already been won."
(Knight, p.10 / tape 28, 11.33)
"Well there were a number of business activities that Rod was involved in that he and I had some tensions over. But since he's no longer on the board those are not relevant things. And, I don't er want to spend time on 4Cs bagging Rod McGeoch".
(Coles, p.20 / tape 22, 28.12)
"There were adverse comments, yeah."
Q: And how did you feel about it?
"Well I thought that ah Rod was his own master and um, he was a free agent but um, but it didn't go down so well with some people, but ah we just left it at that."
Q: Rod McGeoch believes the AOC had it in for him?
"Well, you know, I've told you that Phil Coles and I, we are the AOC, had come to the conclusion that we didn't think he should be the chief executive. If that's having it in for someone, so be it."
Shots of headline & leaking
In mid November a story appeared in the Daily Telegraph, claiming McGeoch had demanded a fee of 8-thousand-dollars for a speech about the Olympics.
The Telegraph had been leaked a copy of a board paper about the matter written by Michael Knight.
It was the first of three leaks suggesting conflict between McGeoch's business affairs and his role at SOCOG.
McGeoch claimed the first he knew of the fee was when he took a phone call from the journalist concerned.
"He said Rod, I've had a copy of the board paper and I've had the board paper read to me about an incident concerning a speech..."
"..he mentioned the words that there was a dirt file on me and he mentioned that, he said Gee, these Olympic officials really do hate you, don't they?"
(Deeta Colvin, tape 31, 21.51)
"It was very obvious to me that the leaks had been made deliberately, and the question I keep asking myself is if the minister had any questions about whether Rod was making a speech for SOCOG or wasn't, why didn't he pick up the telephone and ask him."
Q: How did the Daily Telegraph get hold of your board paper?
"Nobody else knew who I was in that report unless the President had disclosed it, I've got to assume it's come out of the president's office.
Q: Michael Knight's office?
"Yeah, I mean that, I think is a perfectly legitimate er presumption to arrive at. Now I mean, he might well say it didn't. And er I'll have to decide whether I accept that or not."
Q: Rod McGeoch says that leak came from your office?
"Well that's just completely untrue, it's nonsense."
McGeoch's press conference
McGeoch's resignation brought the poisoned politics out of the boardroom and into full public view.
(p.21) Q: Do you like Rod McGeoch?
"That's a funny question, um, not especially and I don't think he likes me especially but that's not what, er, we had a conflict over."
Q: Do you like Michael Knight?
"Er look I tried, um..."
"you know I find he has a very unfortunate manner about him, er an unfortunate way of dealing with people and, er, he'd probably say he's better off without me. I feel pretty comfortable that I'm gonna be better off without him."
Olympic bus tour, Homebush..
Bus heads off..
(recorded v/o) "Welcome to the Olympic explorer bus, today you'll see first hand the work of the NSW govt in getting the site ready for the Olympics in 2000...
To your left is where most people will be arriving/the dramatic award winning architecture of Olympic Park Station creates a wonderful sense of excitement on arrival.." etc.
Eighteen months out from the opening ceremony, the physical preparations for the Sydney Olympics are well on track.
Many of the venues are finished and Homebush has been transformed into
a model Olympic complex.
sot... "We are now on Olympic Boulevarde passing the Sydney Superdome.. . Next door is the gigantic Olympic stadium.." etc.
Bus tour continues
But Sydney's paid a high price to get this far.
The cost to taxpayers is two-point-three billion dollars.
The city has gained some world-class facilities and a coveted event.
But in the process, it's lost sight of the Olympic spirit - of solidarity, fair play and friendship - amid the ugly struggle over the spoils.
"This was supposed to be the Athletes' Games, and it's not really supposed to be you know, the politicians' games or you know the government games.."
"but that sort of seems to be the only thing that's invoking any kind of emotion and unfortunately it's negative emotion at the moment, instead of having sort of some positive emotion that's associated with SOCOG or the Olympics."
other ads - African runner/ Canadian rowers
Hoping to restore public faith in the Olympics, $30m will be spent on advertising between now and the Games.
The financial success of the event
depends on it.
SOCOG has to raise 600-million-dollars through ticket sales... That's 5 million tickets in Australia alone, the most ambitious target ever.
It's also struggling to find new sponsors..
and as a result faces a budget shortfall of 200-million-dollars.
The bottom line of the Games - SOCOG's promise of a $30m profit to the taxpayer - is now in doubt.
AOC Xmas party
But over at the Australian Olympic Committee they're already counting their winnings.
(Harris, p.5, tape 25 / 7.36)
"It's getting towards $200m that we're providing, that the state government is providing the AOC and its Foundation.."
"I mean this is only the contribution from the state government. It's also received contributions, um, from the Commonwealth government. The AOC's done very well, and commendably - well done!"
Q: Compared with the taxpayer?
"Compared with the taxpayer, yes. The taxpayer, the taxpayer has ah, has paid for the privilege of paying for the Olympics."
Q: Can you at this stage give a guarantee to the taxpayers that their 30 million profit will be assured?
"You want me to guarantee against the $100 million do you? No way!"
They'll be celebrating here long past 2000.
Olympic sport is flush with funds..
And there'll be one-hundred-and-twenty-million-dollars - left in the AOC's
coffers - after the Games.
John Coates has achieved his aim - courtesy of the taxpayer - of an
independently wealthy AOC.
Coates on the
phone in his office
And you can be sure the story won't end there.
For this champion of the game of Olympic politics...
there'll always be another deal.