Date: August 08 2012
Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates has been calling for more taxpayer funding of elite sports at the same time as his organisation sits atop a $100 million money pile, financial accounts show.
The money, invested in shares and property funds by the related Australian Olympic Foundation, would be enough to fund at least 700 athletes to attend the nation's top school for elite sports men and women, the Australian Institute of Sport, for five years.
Speaking from London, the head of the foundation's investment committee, former Liberal leader John Hewson, told Fairfax yesterday it was absolutely worthwhile investing the money, rather than spending 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.
In addition to being president of the AOC, for which he is paid $482,000 a year - $1000 more than the Prime Minister - Mr Coates is chairman of the related Australian Olympic Foundation, which manages the AOC's investment fund.
Mr Coates raised the alarm over sports funding in November, when he warned Australia's London Olympic Games medal tally would be reduced because state sports institutes were not receiving enough money.
He had previously dismissed as ''insulting'' a 2009 government report calling for money to be diverted to grassroots sports.
And he returned to the theme last week, saying a flood of money for swimming approved in 2010 came too late to salvage Olympic gold at London.
The government spends about $170 million a year on elite athletes, with most of the spending focused on Olympic sports.
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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