Ryan Lochte Wasn't Punished For His Night Out, But These Australian Swimmers Were
While the accounts of American swimmers Ryan Lochte and friends about their Rio robbery continue to be speculated as false, another swimming team is getting attention for also partying too late and breaking rules. Australian swimmers Josh Palmer and Emma McKeon are banned from the Olympics closing ceremony after they didn't return to the Olympic Village with their teammates following a night out Tuesday, Aug. 16. The rest of the team will be monitored with a new 2 a.m. curfew to prevent an incident like this from happening again.
After Palmer left teammates at a Copacabana nightclub, he told officials that he was robbed of $1,000. Two businessmen found him later and reported that he was disoriented and had lost his wallet and phone. Meanwhile, McKeon didn't let team management know that she was going to stay overnight with a friend outside the Olympic Village. Both are banned from the closing ceremony, where McKeon was a contender to carry the Australian flag. They are also barred from leaving the Olympic Village from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. for the remainder of the Olympic Games.
Australian Olympic Committee chief Kitty Chiller released a statement regarding the decision:
Palmer and McKeon's behavior was unacceptable and they breached disciplinary protocols. I have raised the need for the swimming team leader to ensure he is aware of his athletes' whereabouts when leaving the Olympic Village and that the swimming athletes observe the 2 a.m. curfew.
This is quite a different response from the reaction to Lochte's night on the town. The U.S. swimmer originally told authorities that he and three teammates were robbed at gunpoint, despite video evidence and witness accounts to the contrary. It's been written off as a kid having some fun, even though it's very clear at this point that Lochte went so far as to lie about the incident. Rio Olympics spokesman Mario Andrada said in a statement:
I do not regret having apologized. I do not expect any apologies from [Lochte] or other athletes are needed. They were trying to have fun, they came here and represented their country, trained for years, competed under gigantic pressure. I understand this issue is under investigation. Let's give these kids a break. They made a mistake, it's part of life. Life goes on.
Brazilian police officially declared that the four U.S. swimmers were not victims of robbery, BuzzFeed News reported. Instead, the Brazilian officials said that the swimmers "vandalized the restroom" of a gas station and they tried to leave the scene before police officers could arrive to help. Lochte's teammates have been detained in Rio, but he's already back in the United States, and while it's unlikely that he'll face any kind of disciplinary action for the lies told, maybe the U.S. Olympic Committee will take a page out of Australia's book and step up to enforce some kind of consequences for their athletes' behavior.