Defiant Australian rugby players who were censured by fellow passengers and airline crew for their drunken misbehaviour on a flight home from the Olympics have defended their actions.
Passengers on the Japan Airlines flight from Tokyo to Sydney on Friday morning claimed the ‘loud, rowdy and obnoxious’ rugby sevens players and footballers drank heavily and were singing loudly throughout the flight.
There was also complaints of vomiting in their seats and toilets, rendering them ‘unusable’ and refusing to wear masks.
Two unnamed rugby players and a rugby official hit back at the claims in a report in the Herald Sun.
Unnamed rugby sevens Olympians have staunchly defended themselves over claims they and Olympic footballers got drunk and vomited on the return flight home from Tokyo
Japan Airlines wrote a letter of complaint to the Australian Olympic Committee about the Aussie Olympians’ behaviour, based on cabin crew feedback, within hours of their plane arriving back in Sydney
‘People are allowed to be sick, that’s what sick bags are for,’ a rugby player was quoted as saying.
The player said the vomiting on a plane had happened before, adding ‘who cares? and ‘it’s not World War 3!’
But another unnamed rugby player denied any vomiting happened in the area where his team-mates sat.
Australian athletes are pictured arriving at Narita airport in Tokyo on July 17. An official complaint has been made by Japan Airlines about the Australian rugby and soccer team’s ‘rowdy and obnoxious’ antics on their flight home from Tokyo
One unnamed Australian rugby sevens player said ‘who cares’ over claims players had were drunk and vomiting on the return flight home, while another said rugby players ‘can hold their drink’, implying they were not sick on the flight
A rugby official was reported to have said ‘we were rubbish on the field, but we can hold our alcohol’ – in a suggestion rugby players were not sick on the 10 hour flight.
The flight carried 49 Olympians home and it is understood 10 rugby union and soccer players are under investigation.
None of the footballers on the flight would comment.
Both Football Australia and Rugby Australia are investigating claims, which came from passengers and staff.
‘A few have let themselves down,’ said Olympic chef de mission, Ian Chesterman (pictured)
‘They weren’t wearing their masks as they were drinking all the time,’ a passenger on the flight said.
Japan Airlines sent a letter to the Australian Olympic Committee within hours of the flight landing.
The group also repeatedly raided the Boeing 787’s galley for alcohol and refused to sit down when asked to do so, the airline said in a written complaint to the Australian Olympic Committee.
Multiple athletes were so drunk they started vomiting on the flight, with one passenger saying they left a plane toilet ‘wasted’, News Corp reported.
‘A few have let themselves down and, as we have high standards, the matters were reported to the national federations and they will deal with those athletes involved,’ said Australian Olympic chef de mission Ian Chesterman.
But no players have publicly taken responsibility as they have been ordered not to comment.
An unnamed player said players were unhappy and ‘stressed out’ at being locked in their rooms during the quarantine in Sydney hotels.
The Olyroos and rugby seven’s athletes were until their journey home cooped up in the Olympic Village in Tokyo because of Covid-19 protocols and only allowed to leave to compete in their events or travel to other accommodation.
The AOC said responsibility for the players’ behaviour fell on their sports’ organising bodies, but that both would take ‘appropriate action’.
‘Both Rugby and Football have told me that such behaviour is certainly not acceptable within their sports and have sincerely apologised to the Australian Olympic Team,’ AOC Chief Executive Officer Matt Carroll said.
Signs from the Australian Olympic team hang on their apartment building in Tokyo. The Olyroos and rugby seven’s athletes were until their journey home cooped up in the Olympic Village because of Covid-19 protocols
‘The CEOs have undertaken to take the appropriate action and report back to us.’
Athletes who had represented Australia in surfing, badminton and shooting were on the flight as well but did not receive complaints from other passengers.
‘Football Australia is discussing the matter with the AOC and is taking the responsibility to investigate the involvement of any footballers,’ a Football Federation Australia spokeswoman said.
Rugby Australia said it would also carry out its own internal investigation.
‘Rugby Australia expects the highest standards of all its employees, modelling the values of our game – respect, integrity, passion and teamwork,’ a spokesman said.
The Australian men’s rowing and rugby teams were also reprimanded after a wild weekend of partying at the end of their Tokyo Olympics campaign.
Olympic Village cleaners reportedly found wrecked rooms covered in vomit after the two nights of drink-fuelled celebrations, sparking complaints from other athletes.
Athletes were rushed out of Japan following the end of their events at Tokyo 2020 in a bid to minimise any potential Covid-19 outbreaks.
Mr Chesterman defended the overall conduct of the Aussie stars in Japan.
‘Let’s be clear, the vast majority of athletes have absolutely done the right thing through their stay and been model citizens both on and off the field of play,’ he said.