Australian swimmers Josh Palmer and Emma McKeon have been banned from the closing ceremony after staying out all night partying in Rio.
Gold Medallist McKeon, who was tipped to be a flag bearer in the ceremony, will now be confided to the village between 8pm and 8am – along with Palmer – after a drunken night out that ended in Palmer claiming to be robbed at gunpoint and found ‘disoriented’ on a beach nearly 18 hours later.
The pair were celebrating with a group of other swimmers at a bar in the Miramar Hotel. Fairfax Media writes that at around 4.30am, McKeon decided not to return to the village and instead stay the night with friends from Sweden.
Palmer, who finished fifth in heat three of the 100m breaststroke on Day One, decided to keep the party going and continued on.
Josh Palmer via Twitter.
A statement from Olympics bosses says: "McKeon chose to stay the night with swimming friends in the Copa district without informing Team Management”
“Palmer headed to a beach kiosk with a friend and continued drinking. The others headed back to the village and did not breach any rule.’’
According to journalist Andrew Webster who writes for The Sydney Morning Herald, Palmer stayed out drinking with an Australian columnist and lawyer.
"He [Palmer] finds his way to the beach kiosks where the beer is sold by the long neck and always ice cold….The sun is about to pop its head up over Sugarloaf at the north-end of Copa and this is where the details get sketchy and the hours go missing.”
Webster says that at 10.30am, fellow swimmer James Magnussen phoned the man Palmer was with concerned about the South Australian, but Magnussen told him Palmer was making his way back to the village.
The athletes were partying at Copacabana.
In a story that echoes that of golfer Robert Allenby and American swimmer Ryan Lochte its emerged that hours later, at 2:00pm two “businessmen” found Palmer "disoriented". He had lost his wallet and phone so they called the consulate, who rang the head of Olympic security to come and pick up the Australian.
Reports are that Palmer claimed he was sleeping on the beach when he was woken by a man and robbed, the man forced him to withdraw $1000 in cash from a nearby ATM.
Webster, himself in Rio, questions this account saying that the beach at 10:00am would have been teaming with police and people saying it does not “add up” that an Australian swimmer could be held “at gunpoint after 10.30am in an area with so many there to witness it.”
Making matters even murkier, according to The Australian Palmer decided not to report the theft to the police.
Whatever occurred when Palmer was finally brought before his Olympic bosses he was disciplined.
Just a week after having to give the rugby sevens team a dressing down after a big night out, Australian chief Kitty Chiller stepped in again.
In a statement the Chef de mission has said the behaviour of the athletes was “unacceptable”.
She said that from now Justin Palmer and Emma McKeon must remain in the Village between 8:00pm and 8:00am local time and only travel to sporting events in official Rio 2016 transport.
Chiller said McKeon and Palmer will also now not take part in the closing ceremony, while the swimming team management have imposed a 2:00am curfew on all team members for the rest of the Games.
She said: "Palmer and McKeon's behaviour was unacceptable and they breached disciplinary protocols. I have raised the need for the Swimming Team Leader to ensure he is aware of his athlete's whereabouts when leaving the Olympic Village and that the swimming athletes observe the 2am curfew.
"Swimming management has also decided athletes must advise the Team Leader of their arrival into the Olympic Village and they must present themselves to a Swimming official by 10am.
"Given the security problems we have encountered over the past few weeks I find the behaviour of the disciplined athletes disrespectful to the remainder of the Team.
"I would like to thank the businessmen who found Josh and delivered him to the Australian Consulate and I appreciate the support given to the Team by Consulate staff".
Following the statement release, McKeon tweeted she had "followed AOC safety protocol".
But journalist Andrew Webster says, “questions must be asked of Swimming Australia, which has rammed its message about a brand new 'culture' down our throats for the last year in the wake of the Stilnox saga from four years ago.”
While some have slammed Chiller calling her the “fun police” Webster applauds her actions reminding us that she is in charge of 400 athletes, ready to let off steam after four years of hard work.
“This isn't a trip to Bali with the fellas. We're not filming an episode of Banged Up Abroad,” he writes.
“When you're a member of the Australian team competing at the Olympics, having received repeated warnings about the dangers of drinking to excess in one of the world's most dangerous cities, there is a price to pay.”
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