— Published 31 January 2022

A disturbing patnership


A controversy in Australian sport. At the end of last week, the national olympic committee (AOC) announced through its president, John Coates, the signing of a partnership contract with Hancock Prospecting, a giant in the mining and food industry. Owned by billionaire Gina Rinehart, considered to be one of Australia’s wealthiest people, Hancock Prospecting becomes an official partner of the AOC. It will support the Olympic teams until the Brisbane Games in 2032, including the 2024 Youth Games in Gangwon and 2026 in Dakar, as well as the 2023 Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands. So far, nothing very unexpected. The mining group was already helping the Australian swimming, rowing and beach volleyball teams. But the contract signed by the National Olympic Committee was not appreciated by everyone in Australia, especially only a week after Tennis Australia turned its back on oil and gas giant Santos, its sponsor for a year. In Australia, Hancock Prospecting is regularly singled out as a polluter, particularly because of its fossil fuel production activities. As for Gina Rinehart, she is seen as a global warming denier. Last year she suggested in a video message to students at her former school that they should beware of “propaganda” in the climate debate. Simon Bradshaw, the Climate Council’s head of research, commented: “Coming just days after Tennis Australia’s wise decision to drop Santos as a sponsor, it’s disappointing to see the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) initiate a partnership with Hancock Prospecting. Hancock Prospecting has significant coal interests, is a major polluter, and this association with the AOC can serve only to further embarrass Australia on the world stage over the next four years.”