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AOC pushes child protection policy

  • AOC pushes child protection policy

    All Australian Olympic sports have been told they must adhere to a child protection policy.

All Australian Olympic sports have been told they must adhere to a child protection policy with the same rigour they apply to anti-doping rules or they will not participate in any Games.

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates has fulfilled a commitment he made to the sex abuse royal commission last month that he would give child protection the same importance as drugs in sport.

While there has never been an issue in any Olympic team that he is aware of, Coates said the evidence at the royal commission compelled the AOC to ensure a safe environment for all its athletes, around 10 of whom will be under 18 at the Rio Games in August.

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"It is not negotiable, we will reject anyone whose sport has not implemented a child protection policy," he told sports federation heads at the AOC's AGM on Saturday.

"Every sport in Australia has to comply with the world anti-doping code, why shouldn't the same importance be placed on child abuse?"

Australian officials in Rio, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and the past two Youth Olympics have all had to undergo a child protection check, but the stricter new policy includes all sports as a whole.

But with most athlete nominations already made for Rio, the policy will not apply until the next Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018.

Coates said the Australian Sports Commission will monitor sports federations to ensure they are complying with the code.

"If a national federation does not have such a policy, they will not be able to nominate any athlete for any future Games," Coates said.

Coates made his vow to introduce a code when he appeared before the royal commission hearing into child protection policies and strategies in sporting bodies in April.

He promised royal commissioner Peter McClellan he would help his campaign to urge the federal government to implement a national working with children check.

"I got the message loud and clear. The AOC executive did not hesitate when I recommended the change," he said.

Also vice president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), he told the commission he was steering the IOC to recognise harassment and child abuse in its ethical behaviours by-laws.

An amended code of ethics will be trialled in Rio, he said.

Coates has written to his Brazilian counterpart Carlos Nuzman asking that Australian swimming coach Scott Volkers not be part of Brazil's Rio Olympic team after several allegations of sex abuse were made against him.

The royal commission expressed its disappointment that charges were dropped against Volkers following claims he abused swimmers in the 1980s and 90s.

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