MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian Olympians will be forced to break from their tradition of wild partying in the athletes village after finishing their events at the 2016 Rio Games, with a strict alcohol ban to be enforced by the delegation’s minders.
Australian delegations have generally allowed their athletes to linger after competition rather than head home, with the heady cocktail of youth, alcohol and pent-up energy being released leading to a string of embarrassing incidents.
“We will be expecting an extremely high standard of behavior in Rio - bad behavior will not be tolerated,” Australia’s new chef de mission Kitty Chiller said in comments published by The Australian newspaper on Thursday.
“Athletes need to understand their responsibilities, so our village and the flight home will be dry.”
Australia slumped to its lowest medal haul in 20 years at the London Games, sparking a fierce backlash from Australian media pundits who accused the team of wasting taxpayer money and being more focused on leisure than success.
Members of Australia’s swim team, who underperformed at London, were criticized for drunkenness in an independent review and the men’s 100 meters freestyle relay team were embroiled in scandal for taking Stilnox, a sedative banned by the Australian Olympic Committee, as part of a team bonding exercise.
The team were also embarrassed by rower Josh Booth who was detained by police for damaging shop windows after being out drinking following the final of the men’s eight.
Chiller said athletes who had finished their events would be permitted to attend social functions and would be encouraged to sit down with team managers to work out a “structure” to their post-competition activities.
But all-night partying would not be tolerated.
“There will be severe consequences for those who overstep the line and I don’t care who they are,” she said.
“Many countries send their athletes home after they finish competing. We don’t do that because we want our athletes to have a holistic experience but that does not mean spending every night in a nightclub and sleeping the next day.
“If we’re about high performance, then athletes are not going to be walking into the village at 7 a.m. drunk or making noise or disrupting other athletes,” she added.
“It’s about creating the best environment to achieve performance success. If people want to go and have a drink, within reason, go outside the village, and that’s fine, but don’t disturb others when you come back in.
“They can party any time, they can party when they get back, but the two weeks of the Olympic Games might be their only opportunity, so don’t waste it.”
Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury