Australian Olympians who prompted a complaint over “excessive drinking” on their flight home from Tokyo have hit back by saying: “Who cares who f—— threw up, it’s not World War III?”
The nation’s rugby and football players denied any wrongdoing on the plane as revelations also surfaced of three days of raucous partying by compatriots in the athletes village. Wild behaviour by the Australians, who are staying nearby Team GB’s HQ, is said to have begun last Wednesday, with rugby players allegedly trashing a room as drinking got out of hand.
Then on Thursday night, according to both the Australian and Australia’s Daily Telegraph, the rowers were partying, “smashing a hole in a wall of one of the athlete rooms and leaving vomit for the cleaners”. Despite strict protocols, the newspapers claim there was also an all-night party on Saturday, in which “10 Australians mingled with other delegations and had to undergo further Covid-tests, which came back negative”.
It is the rugby players’ behaviour while on a Japanese airline flight, however, that has landed national sporting chiefs in the most serious bother. Cabin crew were said to be angered as players vomited in their seats, and rendered one toilet unusable for the rest of the flight. There were also reports of loud chanting and singing. The newspaper also alleged players raided the galley for more alcohol after flight attendants refused to serve them. Players from both codes have been told not to comment and to delete any photos.
Japan Airlines has now requested that an intermediary is with squads on every flight, following scenes of heavy drinking by the rugby players. One of the accused players, speaking to Australian reporters on condition of confidence, said: “People are allowed to be sick, that’s what sick bags are for…If someone was sick, it would not be the first time, who cares?”
Allegations of misbehaviour were “stressing everyone out”, he added.
“Who cares who f—— threw up, it’s not World War III?” he said. “Why is rugby being dragged through the mud?” The Australian Olympic Committee, meanwhile, said players were “remorseful” for their behaviour. Up to 10 unidentified rugby players and footballers are said to be under investigation over the actions on a flight that was carrying 49 Olympians from nine sports. One rugby player on board the 10-hour flight denied any Australian involvement.
“Well, if you look at where the vomit was, it wasn’t near our seating plan,” he told the Australian. Another insider was quoted by the two newspapers as saying “we were rubbish on the field, but we can hold our alcohol”.
However, Japan Airlines was so concerned it sent a letter of complaint to Australian Olympics chiefs within hours of the flight landing last Friday. Australian chef de mission Ian Chesterman said he was “deeply disappointed” and laid blame at team officials who were on board.
Chesterman said the drunken players were “good people” but had made “poor choices, as young people do from time to time”. Rugby Australia and Football Australia have launched ethics investigations and have the power to impose fines and suspensions. Police were not called to the incident.
Everyone on board is now undergoing two weeks of mandatory quarantine in Sydney hotels. Chesterman said he was “happy for people to finish their Olympics to have a celebration, while paying consideration to others in the team environment”.
Japan Airlines has imposed new conditions on Australian Olympic team members travelling with the airline. Air New Zealand has also accused Kiwi athletes of excessive drinking, loud music and throwing face masks at staff.
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