Olympic athletes are revered so much, they’re often put on pedestals and looked upon to uphold impossible standards. When they don’t behave the way we expect them to, that’s when the backlash rolls in—just look at how people responded to Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from certain gymnastics competitions at this year’s Games. But now, athletes from a few different sports are making headlines for allegedly exhibiting some truly unsportsmanlike behavior in the Olympic Village and on a flight back from the Games as well, officials say. Three of them have since been banned from upcoming games on their home turf and a group of them are still under investigation due to their actions. To see what these Olympians did to land themselves in trouble, read on.
Australian Olympians from the women’s soccer (football) and men’s rugby teams have been the subject of criticism due to their “excessive alcohol consumption” and “loud and disruptive” behavior on their Japan Airlines flight home from the Games on July 30.
Ian Chesterman, Chef de Mission of the Australian Team, told reporters (via Reuters) on Aug. 4 that he received a report from Japan Airlines about the “unacceptable” behavior of athletes. Chesterman said the athletes “failed to respond to requests for them to do whatever they needed to do on the flight.” Additionally, at least one team member got sick in the bathroom, which left the toilet out of service for the rest of the flight.
The Associated Press (AP) reports that Rugby Australia responded to the report on Aug. 3, saying they had “been made aware of incidents involving the Australian men’s sevens program after being informed by the Australian Olympic Committee.” As a result, they embarked on an internal investigation.
Following the investigation, Rugby Australia announced on Aug. 4 that at least three players—Marika Koroibete, Pone Fa’amausili, and Isi Naisarani—have been banned from their upcoming opening bledisloe Cup matches. “The group had dinner and drinks at the team hotel last Saturday night after a full training week, prior to a training-free day,” Rugby Australia said in a statement (via the AP). “Three players breached team protocols by continuing to drink alcohol well beyond an agreed time. There was no illegal behavior, no damage and no complaints made. No further investigation will take place, or any further action.”
According to Reuters, Australian Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer Matt Carroll said the CEO of Australian Football would also be investigating reports about the misbehavior that took place on the flight home. “It’s extremely disappointing, but both Rugby and Football (governing bodies) have told me that such behavior is certainly not acceptable within their sports and have sincerely apologized to the Australian Olympic Team,” said Carroll.
The football and rugby teams’ behavior on the flight comes after another report of bad behavior in the Olympic Village from Australian athletes. Some Olympians representing the country had done damage to their rooms, including putting a hole in the wall and breaking a bed.
According to Reuters, these incidents also involved the Australian men’s rugby team, as well as the men’s rowing team.
Chesterman apologized for the team’s actions but also downplayed them. “Some young people made a mistake. They had left the rooms in a condition that was unacceptable,” he said, according to Reuters. Chesterman noted that the damage was “minor” and “the rooms were not completely trashed, in any way.”
“There was a hole in the wall, but that’s pretty easy to do,” he said, according to the AP. “I understand there are some big people and some very flimsy walls, temporary walls as well. I don’t think you had to do much to put a hole in the wall.” Chesterman also noted that it was “not the hardest thing to break the cardboard bed.”
However, he did go on to express his disappointment in the teams. “Can I also say how deeply disappointed I am in this behavior? This behavior clearly is unacceptable and does not meet the standards set by this team,” Chesterman said. “This is a proud team, performing brilliantly after a very, very challenging preparation, and the vast, vast majority have conducted themselves superbly both on and off the field of play.”