As John Coates retreats to the Olympic temple, does the Australian Olympic Committee need a healer in Ian Chesterman or a money man in Mark Stockwell?


Stockwell’s credentials for the AOC job include leading the Gold Coast’s bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games and chairman of the Australian Sports Foundation, which raises funds for sport through the private sector.

Mark Stockwell’s last Olympic appearance dates back to 1984 when he competed as a swimmer.Credit:Glenn Hunt

A Brisbane-based property developer, the 58-year-old also chaired the Queensland Olympic team call-up for a long time, impressing with his commitment.

But is financial expertise what AOC needs most now, especially with eminently skilled business types among its leaders, like Craig Carracter, an innovative businessman; Matt Allen, an investment banker; Michael Murphy, a senior Bain Capital executive; and Evelyn Halls, lawyer and banker?

If the AOC needs a healer, its vice president, Chesterman, could pin a Red Cross badge to his chest. Appointed Chef de Mission for Team Australia at the Tokyo Summer Games, he has weathered the delays of COVID-19. From his base in Launceston where his wife has a medical practice, he put his skills as a communications consultant to work remotely, maintaining sports morale and unity. He then turned those words into action in Japan, leading Australia to their best medal ever.

Australian Head of Mission Ian Chesterman.

Australian Head of Mission Ian Chesterman.Credit:Getty

For a winter Olympian, these connections to summer sports will be crucial when voting. As director of the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia, Chesterman likely already has the votes of winter sports sewn up. And every AOC sport gets two votes, which means luge has the same weight as swimming.

It is the same democracy that operates at the IOC, in which Congo has the same vote as Norway to choose the next city to host the Winter Olympics.

Chesterman, 62, through his participation in several Olympic Games, is well known to IOC decision makers, in the same way that the well-connected Coates delivered two Olympic Games to his country in his life, the only person to achieve this . Similarly, the official of a national Olympic sport must attend two Games before the other international representatives know him. Australian sports without long-time leaders have no say in matters such as international qualifying standards, Olympic schedules.

Mark Stockwell at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

Mark Stockwell at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.Credit:PA

While Stockwell’s last appearance as a member of the Australian Olympic team was in 1984, he will have Queensland behind him, a state that has produced several Olympians. However, Queensland is not home to many AOC office-holding voters, unlike Melbourne where Chesterman also has a base.


Coates pledged not to campaign for either candidate, aware of the rancor of the last election. Wylie is also silent, who argued that the AOC needed cultural reform that some say Chesterman, the diplomat, delivered, setting a tone of unity in Tokyo. Stockwell’s supporters will argue that a new revolution is needed.

Meanwhile, Coates, as Honorary Life President, will retire to his chair in the Olympic Temple, without a vote and minus any stipend, but ready to fire off lightning bolts if needed.

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