Australia’s star Olympic swimmers have returned home after winning nine gold medals in the pool in Tokyo.
More than 100 members of the Australian Olympic team arrived in the Northern Territory on Tuesday where they will undergo 14 days of quarantine, mandatory for all international arrivals to Australia.
Among the 115 athletes and support staff on board the flight were members of the swimming team that won a record nine gold medals in Tokyo, the number of which is more than at the previous two games combined, breaking the previous record of eight swimming gold set at the 1956 home Olympics in Melbourne.
Prior to departing Tokyo, Ariarne Titmus — gold medallist in the 200 and 400m freestyle — said she was grateful for the opportunity to compete at the Olympics amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“This has been an unbelievable experience with the most amazing team and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it,” she said on social media, reports Xinhua.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said a total of 853 athletes and support staff was scheduled to return between July 26 and August 14 on a mix of commercial and Qantas chartered flights from Japan. The staggered arrivals are due to the requirement of Games organisers for athletes to depart the Village within 48 hours of their last event.
Matt Carroll, the chief executive of the AOC, said that the returning team members would not be included in Australia’s international arrival cap for residents and citizens returning from overseas.
“Australia Olympic team athletes and officials are not included in the international arrivals quota that has been set by National Cabinet,” he said in a statement.
“While the Team is vaccinated and have been tested every day while at the Games, like every returning Australian, they will remain in quarantine for 14 days and will undergo regular testing in accordance with the requirements of each state and territory.”
Normally, there would have been cheering crowds and emotional reunions with family after the team arrived back. Instead, the athletes were met by masked officials and police officers who took their temperatures and checked their paperwork, according to The Australian report on Wednesday.
During the mandatory two-week quarantine stint, each member has a separate apartment and is under strict orders not to mingle with anyone else, including teammates.
On Tuesday night the AOC said it was aware of reports of “unacceptable behaviour” involving members of the rugby and football squads on a flight from Japan to Sydney on July 30.
“While there has been no formal complaint from the airline, unacceptable behaviour was brought to our attention and I directly raised the issue with our member sports CEOs,” Carroll said in a statement.
“It’s extremely disappointing but 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.”