Phil Coles has been a member of the Executive Board of the Australian Olympic Committee since 1973, being secretary general from 1985 to 1993 and then Director of International Relations from 1993 to 1999. He was a member of the Board of the Sydney Olympics 2000 Bid Limited and was vice president and director of the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) from 1993 to 1999.
Coles has been a member of the International Olympic Committee from 1982 and has been on numerous Commissions, including: Radio and Television from 1983 to 1987, 1993 to 1999, and from August 2001; Joint Mass Media from 1983 to 1984; Olympic Solidarity from 1987 to 1998; Study and Evaluation for the Preparation of the Winter Olympic Games from 1987 to 1988; Sport for All from 1989 to 1995; New Sources of Financing from 1995 to 1997 then Marketing from 1998 to 1999; Working Group on the Olympic Programme and Olympic Programme Commission from 2002.
Coles is a foundation member and member of the Executive Board of the Oceania National Olympic Committees since 1981 and was a board member of the Australian Sports Drug Agency from 1996 to 1998. He has also been a member of the Australian Sports Commission from 1984 to 1987 and from 1989 to 1991. He has been chairman of the New South Wales Institute of Sport from 1995 and was the honorary secretary for the NSW Olympic Council from 1973 to 1985.
Coles enjoyed a successful career in canoeing and was a team member at the 1960 Rome Olympics and team captain at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He competed again at the 1968 Mexico Games. He won 25 national canoe championships and was national surf lifesaving champion five times. He captained the first Australian surf lifeguard team to compete in California in 1965.
In 1983, Coles was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his services to sport.