AOC finances good as gold

AUSTRALIAN Olympic Committee president John Coates has been calling for more taxpayer funding of elite sports while his organisation sits atop a $100 million money pile, financial accounts show.

The money is invested in shares and property funds by the related Australian Olympic Foundation. Speaking from London, the head of the foundation’s investment committee, former Liberal leader John Hewson, told The Age it was ”absolutely” worthwhile to invest the money rather than spend it.

”I have no doubt that this is the best structure, rather than spending the money as you raise it, because it’s very difficult to raise money these days for sports and charities,” he said.

Mr Coates, as well as being AOC president, for which he is paid $482,000 a year – $1000 more than the Prime Minister – is chairman of the foundation.

Mr Coates raised the alarm over sports funding last November when he warned that Australia’s medal tally at the London Olympics would be lower because state sports institutes were not getting enough money.

He had previously dismissed as ”insulting” a 2009

government report calling for money to be diverted to grass-roots sports.

And he returned to the theme last week, saying a flood of money for swimming approved in 2010 had come too late to salvage Olympic gold in London.

The Australian Olympic Foundation was set up in 1996, and it began to invest seriously after receiving a $88.5 million injection following the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

After paying a $6.3 million cash distribution to the AOC, the fund had $106 million at the end of 2011, down from $115 million in the previous year.

The government spends about $170 million a year on elite athletes, with most of the funding focused on Olympic sports. The almost $20 million a year that goes to the Australian Institute of Sport is used to provide support to 1200 athletes, 700 of whom received full or part scholarships.

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