Swimming Australia CEO Mark Anderson says that the sanctions applied to Olympic swimmers Josh Palmer and Emma McKeon, who have been barred from participating in the closing ceremonies were meant to “reinforce” the “paramount importance” of athletes’ “safety health and well-being,” he said in a statement released on Thursday afternoon.
The Australian Olympic Committee barred the two from participating in the closing ceremonies that take place on Sunday, August 21st, as a result of a violation of the organization’s curfew laws. The two were robbed late at night on Tuesday, August 16th in Copacabana, with Palmer being forced to withdraw $1000 from an ATM, The AOC Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller called the behavior “unacceptable.”
Swimming Australia said today it supports the decision by the Australian Olympic Committee to sanction two swimmers; Joshua Palmer and Emma McKeon. The Australian Olympic Committee also placed a curfew upon the pair that they must be in the the Olympic Village every day between 8PM and 8AM, and that they could only travel to sporting events in official Rio 2016 transport.
Palmer competed for Australia in the men’s 100m breaststroke, where he finished 30th after heats in a time of 1:01.13. McKeon was one of Australia’s most successful aquatic Olympians, having claimed a bronze in the women’s 200m freestyle, silvers across the women’s 4×200 and freestyle and 4×100 medley relays, as well as earning gold on the World Record-breaking 4x100m freestyle relay.
Australian head coach Jaccob Verhaeren emphasized that the two acted “professionally” throughout the competition, and says that its not an issue of “poor behavior,” rather emphasizing the safety of the athletes. McKeon stayed with two female friends in the area rather than returning to the village by herself after being separated from team members at a night club. The sanction, according to Swimming Australia, was specifically a result of her failing to inform team management of the situation.
The full statement from Swimming Australia is below.
Swimming Australia CEO, Mark Anderson stated that “our athletes safety, health and well-being is of paramount importance and the sanctions applied reinforces this position for the two involved athletes and the team.”
“Over the course of the Olympic Games the Australian swim team has represented Australia and the team well and have been very mindful of their responsibilities as Australian Olympic Team members,” Anderson said.
“The values of the Olympic Team and the Australian Swim team are our foundation. We hold each other accountable for these values. These are two isolated incidents that do not reflect on the whole team.”
Following a night out both Palmer and McKeon failed to return to the Olympic Village or inform team management of their whereabouts.
McKeon was separated from team members at a nightclub in Copacabana and as per the AOC safety protocol of not travelling alone she opted to stay with two female friends in this area rather than travelling back to the Village by herself. It was her failure to advise team management of this situation that has resulted in this sanction.
Australian Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren said: “In both instances these are not issues of poor behaviour by either individual. The matters related to the safety of both swimmers and that is my and the team’s priority,” Verhaeren said.
“Both athletes conducted themselves well and professionally throughout the competition.”
McKeon made the decision to stay with two international female swimmers that she has previously trained with rather than travel back alone, but notes that she failed to alert team management of this decision, which is a breach of the protocol.
Palmer was also separated from teammates and continued to drink alone, compromising his safety and breaching the AOC safety protocol and placing himself at risk.
Neither of the swimmers disturbed any competing athletes, it was primarily their safety and security that have caused these sanctions.
“The Australian Swim Team and Swimming Australia are fully committed to upholding the AOC values. We were involved in and support the decisions that have been made to ensure all of our team members remain safe for the remainder of the Games and we support the AOC in these endeavours,” Anderson said.