Having broken the team curfew rules in Rio, two Australian athletes have been banned from attending then 2016 Olympics closing ceremony, but according to former Olympian Ian Thorpe, this decidedly harsh move is the right one.
Speaking to the Today Show from Rio, 33-year-old Thorpe explained that “the athletes probably didn’t do the right thing in this instance.”
Ian Thorpe (far right) as part of the historic men's relay team at the 2000 Olympics. Source: Getty Images.
"The first thing I have to say is, number one: security and the safety of our athletes," Thorpe explained. "It's kind of paramount, and I don't know all of the details about this yet, as I've heard most of it back from Australia this evening here. But the athletes probably didn't do the right thing in this instance. They should have let people know where they were so they could be located in case something terrible happened, or just for security alone."
The ban against swimmers Emma McKeon and Josh Palmer came following a night out that saw both athletes breaking team protocol.
Gold, silver and bronze medalist Emma McKeon was one of the athletes banned from the Closing Ceremony. Source: Getty Images.
While McKeon - who was tipped to be a flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony - simply decided to stay with friends and failed to inform the team, it is understood that Palmer was out drinking all night and into the early hours of the morning, eventually being found wandering around disorientated and without his phone and wallet, at around 2pm the next day. Palmer claims he was robbed but has not reported the incident to the police and many are questioning the legitimacy of his account.
When asked if he felt that banning the two from the momentous Closing Ceremony event was too harsh a punishment, the world record breaker responded, "No. It's a tough position to take but...the AOC (Australian Olympic Committee) has said the safety and security of our athletes is the most important thing that they'll get right during these Olympics.
Australian breaststroker Josh Palmer has also been banned from the Closing Ceremony following a break in team protocol. Source: Twitter.
"There's the risk that because of their profile, because of their uniforms or things like that, they may be at risk of violence or they may be at risk of extortion and all of these other things," the gold medallist explained.
"I'm not the person who should come up with the penalties for the athletes, but they most definitely wanted this to be a deterrent for other athletes not to do the same thing."
With both swimmers now being on village arrest from 8pm to 8am for the remainder of the games, we'd say it's a lesson that's going to be well learnt.