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Why Ten Aussie Athletes Were Detained By Police At Rio Olympics

They did not have proper accreditation to attend the basketball semi-final.

21/08/2016 12:10 AM AEST | Updated August 21, 2016 06:17
Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters
Aussie athletes Ed Jenkins (rugby sevens) and Lucy Stephan (rowing).

THE LATEST

The Australian Olympic Committee has apologised to 10 athletes caught up in an accreditation incident in Rio which resulted in them being detained by police.

"The athletes were held at a police station for many hours and I apologise for the trauma they went through. The problem with the accreditation was not their fault" said Chef de Mission, Kitty Chiller.

The AOC has launched an internal investigation into the incident which saw a group of Australian athletes removed from the men's basketball semi-final between Australia and Serbia because their accreditation had been tampered with and changed enabling them to gain access to the event.

"For legal reasons I am not in a position to elaborate except to say it is important to know that the Australian athletes were definitely not at fault. I am very disappointed our athletes had to go through what they went through last night," Chiller said.

The AOC is now in the process of paying the fine imposed by a Brazilian Court of 90 thousand Real (10,000 per athlete).

Chiller and the Chief Executive Officer of the AOC, Fiona De Jong, met with the athletes again today offering continued support to them and their families.

THE BACKGROUND (FROM SATURDAY MORNING, RIO TIME)

A little further down is the initial statement from the Australian Olympic Committee regarding the ten athletes who were hauled out of the basketball venue and detained by police on Friday night (local time) at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Nine of the ten athletes were removed because of concerns their accreditation had been "tampered with" in order for them to gain access to the men's basketball semi-final between Australia and Serbia. The other was detained purely as a witness.

Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters
Fiona de Jong exits the court.

It is not yet known exactly what transpired in this case, but it is believed that athletes from many countries have taken to trying to enter Rio Olympic sporting venues to watch their teammates compete -- and are doing this on occasion without the appropriate accreditation.

But Australia's chef de mission Kitty Chiller gave a pretty good hint as to what happened when she said:

"It's traditional not only in Australia, but in other countries as well: putting a sticker on your accreditation with another venue code on it."

Venues are often less than full in many sports at the Rio games, even for finals matches. There is great frustration in Rio across numerous National Olympic Committees (NOCs) that seats go begging, denying athletes who have finished competing a chance to cheer on their teammates.

Chris Helgren / Reuters
A day earlier. Chiller -- a modern pentathlete at Sydney 2000 -- was crying tears of joy as we won gold in her old event. These were not tears of joy.

Each NOC receives a smallish allocation of complimentary tickets for their athletes for each event. The size of the allocation varies depending on a number of factors, including the demand for tickets to that event, and whether the NOC applying for tickets has a team or athlete involved.

There is a mood in Rio, particularly after the Ryan Lochte affair, that Brazilian law and Olympic rules must be adhered to more strictly than ever by visiting athletes and officials.

Each of the nine athletes has been given a two year good behaviour bond and a 10,000 real (about $A 4,100) fine. The AOC will pay the fine and any legal fees.

AUSTRALIAN OLYMPIC TEAM STATEMENT

Last night Australia played Serbia in the Olympic Basketball semi-final and a number of Australian athletes attended the event to support their teammates.

At approximately 7pm ten athletes were sent to the Venue Operations office at Carioca Arena 1 because of concerns their accreditation had been tampered with allowing them to access the venue.

Deputy Chef de Mission, Fiona de Jong, was contacted and arrived at the venue soon after to assist. The group remained at the venue until 9pm when they were moved to the Olympic Park police station.

Brazilian lawyers representing the AOC joined them at the police station and along with De Jong began the process of working with the Brazilian authorities to resolve the matter.

At around 2.30am as part of this process they were moved from the police station to the State Major Events Court adjacent to the police station where De Jong and the lawyers discussed the matter with the prosecutor and a judge.

She apologised to the court and explained that the athletes were supporting their teammates, they were not attempting to defraud anyone, no-one had suffered a material loss and no-one was harmed as a result of the incident.

A resolution was then presented to the athletes by De Jong.

Nine athletes were being charged with falsifying a document. Those athletes are:

  • Ashlee Ankudinoff (cycling)
  • Melissa Hoskins (cycling)
  • Ed Jenkins (rugby)
  • Alec Potts (archery)
  • Ryan Tyack (archery)
  • Olympia Aldersey (rowing)
  • Fiona Albert (rowing)
  • Lucy Stephan (rowing)
  • Simon Orchard (hockey)

Matthew Glaetzer was not charged but detained as a witness. He was not required to provide a statement to police.

The charges, which are punishable with a jail term under Brazilian law, would not go before the courts for at least three weeks.

The alternative to the full legal process was an expedited hearing resulting in each athlete being given a two year good behaviour bond and a 10,000 real fine.

No criminal conviction would be recorded and any record of the proceeding would be expunged after two years.

The athletes then entered the courtroom and the judge explained the offence and delivered his decision. At 5.30am the athletes left the court and returned to the Athletes' Village.

The athletes' passports have been retained by the court pending payment of the fine at which time they will be returned and the athletes will be free to leave Brazil. De Jong advised the athletes the AOC will pay the fine and any required legal fees.

"The welfare of the athletes is our primary concern and the AOC will continue to provide whatever support is necessary to the athletes and their families" De Jong said.

"The AOC has launched an internal investigation as to who was responsible for not adhering to the accreditation rules."

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