Photograph: Martin Rickett/EPA
The Australian Olympic Committee has no plans to sever ties with Hancock Prospecting as other sports that have sponsorship deals with Gina Rinehart’s company are also holding firm amid controversy surrounding short-term sponsorship duration of the mining giant of Netball Australia.
Hancock pulled out of a $15 million deal with Netball Australia this weekend after player concerns were raised over the company’s record on Indigenous issues. In 1984, Rinehart’s father, Lang Hancock, the founder of Hancock Prospecting, suggested that Indigenous Australians should be sterilized to “breed”. Diamonds players also discussed Hancock’s environmental credentials.
The initial pushback and subsequent reversal of the deal brought to light the sometimes thorny issue of sponsorships in sport.
Related: Diamonds ‘wanted to support’ Hancock sponsorship but don’t regret position taken
But the AOC confirmed on Tuesday that it had had no discussions in light of the Netball Australia saga, nor did it intend to drop Hancock as a sponsor.
Earlier this year, Hancock secured a deal to sponsor the Australian Olympic team through 2026, while the company has also entered into individual sponsorship deals with a number of other sports including swimming, volleyball- ball, rowing and synchronized swimming.
Revenue from these types of deals is considered essential to the survival and success of the Australian Olympic team, with the funds helping to pay the huge bill for sending teams to competitions. They also support individual athletes, provide incentive funding for medal awards, and fund community activities such as Aboriginal programs.
Rowing Australia, Volleyball Australia and Swimming Queensland – also beneficiaries of sponsorship deals with Hancock – have responded to the issues highlighted by the netball player revolt by continuing to support Rinehart and his business.
Rowing Australia CEO Ian Robson says the deal with his organization since 2015 that provides direct funding to athletes has “transformed” its high performance programme.
“RA’s athlete group, as evidenced by recent public statements, is very grateful for the support they receive from Ms. Rinehart and Hancock Prospecting and fully supports our partnership,” Robson said.
“We look forward to our partnership continuing into the future to Brisbane 2032 and beyond.”
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Contacted after Hancock pulled out of the netball deal, Swimming Queensland CEO Kevin Hasemann said he had nothing further to add to the statement made last week, when he said that his organization “is proud of its longstanding partnership with Ms. Gina Rinehart and Hancock Prospecting”. ”.
Volleyball Australia CEO Craig Carracter, whose organization has partnered with Rinehart and Hancock for nearly 10 years, said he was “surprised” by the concerns raised by netball players and that Rinehart deserved ” accolades” and not criticism.
The AOC said it was not aware of any athlete who received Hancock’s endorsement who raised concerns about the sponsorship deal, but “any athlete is free to express their views.” It’s a position shared by Swimming Australia, whose athletes are now funded directly by Hancock after the company ended a partnership with the body 12 months ago.
“We have, and continue to welcome, an open dialogue with our athletes on all matters related to the high performance program,” an SA spokesperson said.