Former Australia Olympic Committee president John Coates has stated he is "firmly" of the view that the headquarters of the Australian Institute of Sport must remain in Canberra.
The Vice-President of the Organising Committee for the 2023 Brisbane Olympic Games has come out to correct the record on the "national home of sport" in light of the debate surrounding the new review ordered by the Albanese government which will examine, among other things, the "optimal location" of the AIS.
Queensland officials have been lobbying to move the AIS to south-east Queensland for several years ahead of the Brisbane Games and they have been backed by former Sports Commission chairman John Wylie who has criticised the location and age of the Bruce campus.
Mr Coates had been drawn into the south-east Queensland debate several years ago, but in a statement to The Canberra Times, Mr Coates said he was not a fan of moving the AIS.
"I am firmly of the view that the headquarters of the AIS must remain in Canberra and that has consistently been my view," the former AOC boss said.
"While it may make sense for some sports to base themselves or prepare for international competitions in Queensland, that is a matter for them."
Mr Coates joins the ACT Chief Minister, independent ACT senator David Pocock, and federal Labor MPs Andrew Leigh, David Smith and Alicia Payne in calling for the national capital to retain and reinvest in the AIS. Mr Barr says reinvesting in the Canberra campus was the cheapest and quickest option.
Senator Pocock wants the Infrastructure Minister Catherine King and Minister for Sport Anika Wells to rule out relocating the AIS as any potential move "shouldn't be contemplated".
"It is certainly not an argument to move the AIS from its current location. It is a national institution and should remain so," Mr Coates said.
"Importantly, there continues to be a role for the state-based institutes and academies of sport, including regionally. They are all part of the fabric of Australian high performance sport - summer and winter."
The two-and-a-half month independent review will be undertaken by the chair of the National Intermodal Corporation Erin Flaherty and CEO of Sport Inclusion Australia and Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee board member Robyn Smith.
Ms King and Ms Wells have declined to comment.
The AIS master plan business case, which will form part of the review, showed the cost of moving the AIS assessed at a minimum of $600 million, exclusive of land costs, but could cost in excess of $1 billion in initial capital investment.
The master plan also shows moving the AIS would take "at minimum" an additional four years and accrue a "significantly high execution risk" for athlete preparation for the 2026 Commonwealth Games as well as the 2028 and 2032 Olympics and Paralympics.
The review is due to deliver its report before the end of the year with "distinct and prioritised" options for consideration by government.
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