Misbehaving at the Olympics

Deutsche Welle
6 Min Read

Some athletes use the two weeks away from home to blow off more than a little steam. They don’t seem to take into account that their behavior can get them arrested, sent home and even banned from future Olympics.
Ah, the Olympics. The apex of athletic achievement, where hard-working athletes compete for honor and glory. The culmination of four years of training. And, apparently, a crazy, two-week party of Spring Break dimensions for some of the men and women competing.

It’s no secret that the Olympic Village sees celebrations as well as sweat and tears. Where else do young people from all over the world live together in close quarters, hoping to experience the greatest moments of their athletic careers?

Organizers at this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro handed out 450,000 condoms to the 10,500 participating athletes. That’s a record 42 per athlete. The tradition of distributing protection began in Seoul in 1988, and it was off to a racy start right away: after several of the official tournament condoms were found on roofs in the Olympic Village. As a comsequence the Olympic Association banned outdoor sex.

So a little partying is to be expected. But some athletes don’t just toast their victories. Sometimes, Olympians behave so outrageously that they are detained, sent home early, or even banned from participating in future Olympics.

Fateful all-night bender

Dutch gymnast Yuri van Gelder qualified for the finals of the rings event in Rio, but will not actually be competing. Van Gelder, 33, left the Olympic Village on Saturday evening and spent the night celebrating, only returning to his temporary home Sunday morning. He violated Dutch team rules and was promptly banned, Dutch sports officials reported Tuesday.

“It’s terrible for Yuri, but this kind of behavior is unacceptable,” said the Dutch team ambassador Maurits Hendriks in a statement. “In sports terms this is a disaster, but we had no other choice given the violation of our values.”

Van Gelder has a history of inappropriate behavior. In 2009, he was suspended from the Dutch Gymnastics Union for taking cocaine three days before the national championships.

Giving boxing a bad name

Boxing is making negative headlines in Rio with two athletes detained for alleged sexual assault. Brazilian police arrested Namibian boxer Jonas Junius, 22, after a maid in the Olympic Village said he had tried to grab her, kiss her and offered to pay her for sex. Junius was Namibia’s flag bearer in the games’ opening ceremony. Whether he can compete in his fight scheduled for August 11 remains questionable.

Moroccan boxer Hassan Saada was arrested last week after allegedly assaulting two cleaning ladies. He’s being held for 15 days pending an investigation according to media reports. The Olympics are over for him.

Not going swimmingly

Australian swimmers are living under strict rules in Rio for the duration of the games. The reason: the swim team from Down Under misbehaved so badly during the last Olympics in London that they’re now basically under probation.

The swimmers mustn’t drink any alcohol in the Olympic Village and there will be no alcoholic beverages served on the flight back to Sydney after the games end. Athletes are allowed to drink responsibly outside the village once they have finished competing.

At the London 2012 Olympics, some Australian swimmers partied so hard that other team members couldn’t sleep. The men’s freestyle relay team took prescription sleeping pills as a team bonding exercise and one team member broke a shop window while drunk.

“We will be expecting an extremely high standard of behavior in Rio,” Australia’s Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller said back in 2013 when the restrictions were announced. “Bad behavior will not be tolerated.”

Tradition of mischief

The origins of misconduct in Australia’s Olympic swim team go back a long time. During the 1964 games in Tokyo, swimmer Dawn Fraser stirred up controversy from the beginning. She angered sponsors by wearing an outdated swimsuit that she deemed more comfortable than the current one.

More interestingly, Fraser was accused of stealing an Olympic flag from the flagpole outside the Japanese emperor’s palace. She was arrested but released without charge, given the flag as a souvenir and was even allowed to carry the Australian flag in the Olympic closing ceremony.

Still – Fraser was slapped with a harsh punishment. The Australian Swimming Union banned her from competitive swimming for 10 years, effectively ending her career.

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