Paris Olympics 2024: Leisel Jones on Australia’s 48-hour rule impacting flag-bearer chances

Paris Olympics 2024: Leisel Jones on Australia’s 48-hour rule impacting flag-bearer chances

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How would you feel if you were the standout choice to be Australian flagbearer at the Paris Olympics closing ceremony but had to pull out because you were sight-seeing in Europe?

Or visiting the pyramids? Or at home in Australia?

Don’t write it off.

Australia’s decision to give athletes 48 hours to vacate the Paris Olympic Village after the conclusion of their event at this year’s Olympics has raised the possibility of swimmers competing in the first week being long gone by the closing ceremony which they are permitted to attend.

Four time Olympian Leisel Jones agreed the prospect of a swimmer being a standout choice to carry the flag but not being around the answer the call in the way that flagbearers Kieren Perkins (1992), Ian Thorpe (2000), Petria Thomas (2004) and Steph Rice (2008) did is a realistic possibility.

“That could happen because it (the flagbearer) could be a swimmer,’’ Jones said.

“You think of Emma McKeon and what she could achieve at the Games. But a lot of athletes won’t hang around Paris after they have finished because they cannot afford to.

“The swimmers only find out whether they are going to Paris five or six weeks out from the Games so it could to be impossible for them to book accommodation for the second week. Can you imagine how expensive it would be? They would have to go well outside Paris.’’

The Australian Olympic Committee said it has only 474 beds in the village but around 567 competitors so it needs people to come and go.

Since this masthead broke the news of the new rule earlier this month there has been no sign of the AOC changing its stance.

Several athletes have spoken out against it but their right of protest is limited because the proposal was passed by the Athlete’s Commission who advise the AOC on key issues from an athlete’s perspective.

“It will be devastating for them,’’ Jones said. “Some of the greatest memories I have of my Games experience came in the second week. I never got to do an opening ceremony and to miss the second week would be horrendous.

“Sometimes it’s just things like the support you can give other athletes. You might have the swimmers going to the basketball and because they are not competing they can stay as long as they like and give a lot of support in a foreign country where you might not get much.’’

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