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Singing, drinking, and throwing up: Aussie Olympians scolded over ‘rowdy’ flight home

written by Hannah Dowling | August 4, 2021
Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA) aircraft at Tokyo Haneda Airport. (Rob Finlayson)
Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA) aircraft at Tokyo Haneda Airport. (Rob Finlayson)

Japan Airlines has filed a written complaint to the Australian Olympic Committee against a number of Australian athletes who were reportedly overly drunk and “rowdy and obnoxious” on their flight home from Tokyo.

Members of the Olyroos and the Rugby Sevens male Olympic teams reportedly spent much of the 9.5-hour flight from Tokyo to Sydney ignoring the directions of flight attendants and raiding alcohol from the galley, which has sparked further investigations.

Flight JL51 left Tokyo’s Haneda Airport just before 7:40pm local time on Thursday, 29 July, and landed in Sydney after 6am the following morning.

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Passengers on the flight told the media that the athletes were “loud, singing, refusing to sit down when requested, rowdy and obnoxious” throughout much of the flight. Passengers have also said the teams were refusing to wear their face masks, and constantly drinking.

It appears the drunken antics began when the soccer and rugby teams, which were originally seated at opposite ends of the Boeing 787 aircraft, congregated together near the Olyroos team’s seats towards the back of the jet, and began chanting and singing.

A source close to the matter suggested that the players “hadn’t seen each other during the Olympics and so this was the first time they had a chance to catch up”.

According to other passengers, by halfway through the flight many of the players were already excessively drunk, and more than one was vomiting, leaving one of the onboard toilets in a barely usable state.

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Other members of the Australian Olympic team, including some involved in surfing, badminton, and shooting were also on the flight, however were not involved in the antics. One member of the Olympic team onboard said she was “mortified” by the behaviour of the soccer and rugby players inflight.

Flight attendants said that the players in question refused to listen to directions to sit down and wear their masks, and continued to raid the aircraft’s galley for alcohol even after being told to stop.

Australian Olympic Committee chief executive Matt Carroll said the incident is “extremely disappointing” and that a meeting had been called with the heads of both sports.

Carroll said both sports leaders were taking full responsibility for their players.

“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,” he said.

“The CEOs have undertaken to take the appropriate action and report back to us”.

In a statement, Rugby Australia confirmed that it is conducting its own investigations into the matters, after being made aware by the AOC of the unsafe and “unacceptable” behaviour by the Australian men’s Sevens team on the flight home from Tokyo.

“Rugby Australia has begun its own internal investigation into the matter based on the information provided by the AOC,” the statement said.

“Rugby Australia expects the highest standards of all its employees, modelling the values of our game – respect, integrity, passion and teamwork.”

Similarly, a spokesperson for Football Federation Australia also said it had been made aware of the behaviour of the Olyroos on flight JL51.

“Football Australia is discussing the matter with the AOC and is taking the responsibility to investigate the involvement of any footballers,” the spokesperson said.

It follows other recent allegations that Australia’s Olympic teams threw rowdy parties and damaged their rooms before leaving Tokyo.

Throughout their stay, Olympians were largely confined to their rooms, and were only allowed to leave in order to travel to their competition venues for training and competing.

All Olympians on the flight have now entered mandatory 14-day quarantine, overseen by the AOC.

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13 Comments

  • Mitchell

    says:

    Just humans’ returning to their basest level. Not at all surprised which teams’ were involved.

    Pity the cabin crew, who tried to control the uncontrollable.

    That they ‘raided’, ie stole liquor from the galley, should mean they’re charged with theft.

    Certainly a case of ‘ugly Australians’ abroad’.
    Nothing’s changed in all the years’ athletes’ from here have gone to/from overseas to compete.

    • Zackery Allan

      says:

      Aussie Olympic vandal,/thugs that failed in their events .Smashed up their living accommodation in Tokyo before Heading back to Australia, Then started their usual filthy Aussie behaviour on flight,s including a drinking binge and vomiting all over each other and the plane.Will these animals be banned ever again to represent Australia ? Of Couse they will . Just like the Cheating Aussie Cricket Captain And the other two grubs. are all heroes now.

  • Peter

    says:

    As a former Onboard Manager flight attendant the behaviour of some of our returning olympians was simply disgraceful and extremely unsafe in a number of ways. Not to mention, illegal.
    I feel the Cabin crew were not as proactive as they could have been. Perhaps a cultural impediment. The Team managers should have been approached to bring their charges into line and comply with lawful directives given by the JAL crew. To me they were derelict in their duties and just as much to blame.
    In short congratulations to those who didn’t approve and partake is such vile behaviour.
    Simply wanting to ‘cut loose’ does not condone this shameful behaviour.

  • J_sh

    says:

    Not just humans. Japanese are humans and know how to behave in public. With so many of them crowded into such small areas of land in otherwise mountainous Japan they have had to develop a strict code of conduct to manage what would otherwise intolerable stresses. Being conformist helps. European cultures can be like this to a degree, e.g. Swiss, with individually oriented Anglo countries the worst. Footballers especially. That they should behave like this as guests on a Japanese operated flight of all possibilities is shaneful.

  • Mahoney

    says:

    If they had been ‘ordinary passengers’ instead of ‘sports heroes’ on a QF, JQ or VA flight the Federal Police would have met them at the gate and the matter would have been dealt with much differently. As far as I know ‘failing to comply with instructions issued by flight crews’ was an offence.
    I wonder if any of their fellow passengers were urging restraint?

    No wonder Australians have got such a great name overseas.

  • Josh

    says:

    Japanese have, by necessity, learned to behave with decorum in public space and being a homogeneous conformist society everyone acts to uphold those values. Not so much in Western countries with Swiss culture being an exception and individualist Anglo countries being the standout and football teams the pinnacle where they become tribal especially with alcohol. It is shameful that they would behave so as guests in a *Japanese* operated flight of all possibilities.

  • Robbie

    says:

    Nice to see nothing has changed over the years!
    I was a Flight Attendant with Qantas back in the 70’s-80’s, when QF put a total ban on carrying rugby league players for this sort of “thuggish” behaviour after a bunch of rugby players got drunk and out of control and damaged the aircraft on more than one occasion.
    Because Sydney has such an “entitled” attitude towards Rugby and its players, this attitude is still rampant in rugby players generally.
    On one occasion, because there was a team going to LHR to play a game, the crew on the previous sector ordered so much booze for the sector I was crewing, that I refused to sign for it and sent it back to the bond store.
    This caused a lot of consternation, but for safety reasons it could not come on board as there was nowhere to store it.
    The main part of crew responsibility is to ensure all “loose” items are stored for takeoff and landing, and the toilets are not a storage cupboard for cartons and cartons of beer as was suggested by some members of my crew who should have known better.

  • Noodles

    says:

    The athletes involved should be aware the “joe public” is the person who pays for this. How dare they treat airline staff in that manner.

  • Absolutely disgusting indeed, no excuse at all. Just because they are ”Olympic” sports people, does not put them above the law. Charge them with theft at least, and fines for rowdy behaviour, and frightening the rest of the passengers.
    Name and shame !

  • Matt

    says:

    Why didn’t the AFP meet the aircraft, have these idoiots escorted into custordy and charged!! Surely they should be a beacon of integrity for all!!

  • Td

    says:

    Throw the book at them by the Feds (or international authorities) after an inquiry confirming the issues and send an apology to JAL and the Japanese organisers with the Olympics. The only reasons the crew didn’t divert the flight is that wherever they divert to offload our thugs will involve Covid issues and international shame on the Japanese being Olympic hosts disposing of their guests in this manner.
    Shame on our competitors and associated management on board that flight.
    Maybe next Olympics the aircraft involved will be like our mining flights……dry non alcoholic flights.

  • Rod Pickin

    says:

    Once identified, the culprits should be photographed, the prints published in the daily newspapers and any medals that they won should be removed from them. Their behavior onboard the host country’s aircraft is despicable, – can you imagine the Japanese behaving like that, of course not.

  • John

    says:

    If they did that on an internal Australian flight they would have have been charged under an offence against the Aviation Transport Security Act.
    Disgusting behaviour !

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