Coates' Tribute To Margaret Whitlam19 March 2012
The President of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates, paid tribute to the late Margaret Whitlam today saying “she was a key contributor in Sydney winning the Olympic Games in 2000”.
The wife of former Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, passed away at the age of 92 on Saturday.
Mrs Whitlam (nee Dovey) represented Australia in swimming at the Empire Games in Sydney in 1938. She was an Australian breastroke champion in 1937.
Along with her husband she worked tirelessly in support of Sydney’s Olympic bid team which resulted in Sydney winning the right to host the Games in 2000.
The Whitlams accompanied Coates on the “African Mission” in 1993 when they visited 13 countries in 30 days campaigning for Sydney.
“It was a very hectic schedule and it was far from five star accommodation and Margaret played a leading role along with Gough as we met with Presidents, Prime Ministers as well as IOC members," Coates said.
“The previous bids by Brisbane and Melbourne lacked key African support and the Whitlams were instrumental in Sydney gaining at least six or seven votes on that trip,” he said.
“Both were in their 70’s and it was not an easy trip. We did not stay longer than two days in any place,” Coates said. The trip included a private meeting with Nelson Mandela.
The Whitlams were also part of the bid Team when Sydney ultimately won the vote in Monte Carlo.
“We will forever be indebted to Margaret for the role she and Gough played in helping Sydney win,” Coates said. “The trip they made to Africa made all the difference and we won by two votes”.