opinion

Emma McKeon and Josh Palmer both got banned. Yet their actions in Rio are no where near equal.

Picture this: A man and a woman go out clubbing in a foreign city. It’s late. We’re talking wee hours of the morning late. And they’ve had a bunch of drinks.

The woman, having had enough of partying, stays the night with her friends rather than make her way back home on her own.

The man decides to kick on, keeps drinking, and ends up getting robbed at gunpoint before being found disoriented on a beach the next day.

It doesn’t take a genius to notice that there is clearly a big difference in their antics.

And in most rational situations, the woman would be applauded for making the smart, safe decision.

But now we know the Olympics is not most situations.

Emma McKeon on day 9 of the Rio Olympics. (Image: Getty)

Today we have two young Australian swimmers, Emma McKeon and Josh Palmer, copping the exact same punishment for vastly different behaviour.

Both must now remain in the Olympic Village between 8am-8pm and they can only travel to sporting events in official Rio 2016 transport.

What’s more, they have together been banned from participating in the Rio closing ceremony.

That is deeply cutting for McKeon who was a strong contender to be our flagbearer after winning four medals in the pool in Rio. Palmer, for what it's worth, finished fifth in his heat of the 100m breaststroke on day one of the games.

Emma and her teammates on day 1 of Rio. (Image: Getty)
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Looking at the Australian Olympic Committee treatment of the two athletes and the wider coverage of this story, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were side-by-side in a dangerous dusk-til-dawn night of partying in Cococabana.

But look past the screaming headlines and you see a 22-year-old adult woman who, by and large, has been penalised for taking care of herself.

As McKeon bitterly pointed out on Twitter, her error was not texting team management to inform them she’d be staying with friends.

And what on earth was stopping them from texting her to check that she was okay? Don't they also have some form of duty of care for their team members?

I understand that rules are there for a reason. And that particularly in a city like Rio, which is notorious for crime, the AOC demands that athletes keep team leaders informed on their whereabouts and meet their 2am curfew. Safety is paramount.

But when rules are foolishly broken, surely each case should be looked at individually to ensure the punishment fits the 'crime'.

McKeon has been lumped with Palmer for vastly different indiscretions. And that’s just not fair.

I only hope that the AOC has the goodwill to reexamine their harsh decision to exclude her from the closing ceremony.

Because McKeon has worked too bloody hard for this moment only for it to be taken away from her because she stuck beside trusted friends after a late night out celebrating her achievements.

I mean, safety is paramount, right AOC?

Tags: celebrity , current-affairs , media
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