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.
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.
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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