Australian rugby Olympians rebuked over mid-air boozefest
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TOKYO - Australian sevens rugby players were reprimanded Thursday for drunken antics on a flight to Sydney from the Tokyo Olympics, with some told to undergo alcohol counselling, the sport's governing said Thursday.
Rugby Australia chief Andy Marinos labelled the behaviour on the Japan Airlines (JAL) flight "entirely unacceptable" for any athlete representing their country.
Marinos apologised on the team's behalf to JAL, the Australian Olympic Committee and affected passengers on the flight, which landed in Sydney last Friday.
"The apology is also extended to the host nation of Japan and its people for their hospitality and grace," he added.
JAL complained after the flight that athletes drank excessively, failed to respond to requests of cabin crew and caused disruption to other passengers.
At least one athlete vomited in a toilet, rendering it unusable for the rest of the 10-hour flight and there were reports some Olympians raided the plane's alcohol cabinet after being refused further drinks.
Investigations found the culprits were all from the Australian men's rugby and football teams.
Marinos said some of the accommodation used by the rugby players in Tokyo was also left in an unacceptable state.
But he said there was no evidence the players left any mess in the JAL plane's seats or toilet.
He said all team members had been reprimanded and warned about their future conduct.
Certain team members will also undergo education and counselling sessions regarding behaviour and alcohol consumption," he said.
Football Federation Australia is yet to comment publicly about the allegations against its players.
New Zealand's Olympians have been accused of similar behaviour on a flight from Tokyo to Christchurch, including breaching Covid-19 restrictions by throwing used facemasks at cabin crew.
However the New Zealand Olympic Committee has defended its charges, saying it understood they wanted to celebrate after years of training for the Games.