Australian rugby, soccer teams investigated for drunken behavior on flight home: ‘One member at least vomited’

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Team Australia’s chef de mission Ian Chesterman, seen here during an earlier press conference, said Japan Airlines conveyed concerns after members of the rugby and soccer teams were drinking excessively on their flight home from the Tokyo Olympics. (James Chance/Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – Members of Australia’s rugby and soccer teams are facing possible punishment after engaging in drunken, rowdy behavior on the flight home from the Tokyo Olympics.

Ian Chesterman, the vice president of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and the chef de mission of Team Australia, said Wednesday that the AOC will leave it up to the Australian rugby and soccer federations to investigate and sanction the athletes.

The incidents, which occurred on a July 30 flight from Tokyo to Sydney, were reportedly conveyed to the AOC by Japan Airlines.

“We’ve received, as I outlined here, [reports of] bad behavior,” Chesterman said at a Wednesday press conference, listing off complaints including “failing to respond to requests from staff members, excessive drinking of alcohol, and that one member at least vomited into the toilet.”

Chesterman went on to decry the athletes’ behavior as “completely inappropriate,” but admitted he did not yet know which specific team members were responsible.

“There’s not one or two people involved,” he said. “There was a group of people, there [was] loud behavior. So that was a group of people. But how many in those groups? I don’t know. The specific people, I don’t know.”

Matt Carroll, the chief executive of the AOC, shared further details of the reported incident on the Australian morning program “Sunrise,” saying some of the athletes were drinking in the aisles and refusing to wear their masks on the 10-hour flight.

“Athletes were saying they were drinking and that’s why they weren’t wearing their mask,” he said on Wednesday morning’s episode, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. “That’s not good enough, particularly [because it was] keeping people up late at night. There were other Australians returning on that flight … it’s not the standard the Australian Olympic Committee expects and not the standard the sports expect too.”

The events of July 30 also followed a night of “excessive drinking” on the part of the returning athletes, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Both Chesterman and Carroll have stated that Australia’s governing bodies for rugby and soccer would be handling any further investigation. It’s unclear what punishments the team members face, though Chesterman suggested that neither Rugby Australia nor Football Australia would be considering a permanent ban from future Olympic competition, Reuters reported.

“The rugby and football teams are full of good people, but some have clearly made poor choices, as young people from time to time do … I hope and believe in the future they will make better choices,” Chesterman said.

During the press conference, Chesterman also described a separate incident on July 29, the night before the flight, during which members of the Australian rugby and rowing teams put a hole in the wall of a rowing room while celebrating. He said the teams had apologized.

“There was a hole in the wall, but that’s pretty easy to do,” Chesterman said. “I understand there’s some big people and some very flimsy walls, temporary walls as well. I don’t think you had to do much to put a hole in the wall.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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