Australian Olympic Committee to back humanitarian visas for Ukrainian athletes as new president is announced

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) will support Ukrainian athletes seeking to resettle in Australia on humanitarian grounds amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, outgoing AOC President John Coates says.

Mr Coates told the AOC’s annual general meeting in Sydney on Saturday that it was “sad” that young Ukrainian athletes were swapping sports equipment to take up arms against Russia’s forces.

“Today I announced that the AOC executive has — by circular resolution last week — determined that the AOC will support humanitarian visa applications by Ukrainian athletes and will seek the assistance of you, our member sports, in their settlement requirements,” said Mr Coates, who is also a vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Mr Coates added that the AOC would contribute $100,000 to the IOC’s “Solidarity Fund” for the Ukrainian Olympic community.

“As Ukrainians are forced to defend their families and homes, Ukrainian athletes are among them,” Mr Coates said.

“Many have returned home for this purpose, and how sad it is that young men and women just swapped their rackets and running spikes for rifles and flak jackets.”


Russia no longer part of ‘international Olympic community’

Mr Coates, retiring as AOC president after 32 years, used his final address to the annual meeting to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“There are no stadiums for their colours, no poles for their flags, no music for their songs and no dais for their athletes,” he said.

“That is the position of the IOC and the AOC. A position which remains until such time as there is cause to change.”

The AOC’s incoming president Ian Chesterman was Australia’s chef de mission at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year.(ABC News)

AOC welcomes new president

The Australian Olympic team’s chef de mission at the Tokyo Olympics, Ian Chesterman, has been elected as the new president of the Australian Olympic Committee.

Mr Chesterman replaces John Coates, who announced he was stepping down from the role earlier this week.

A long-standing chef de mission of Winter Olympics teams, Mr Chesterman was widely praised for shepherding the Australian team through the Tokyo games during the pandemic.

He beat his only challenger, Olympic swimming silver medallist Mark Stockwell.


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