Australia slams report of vandalism by its athletes


New Delhi : Australia has slammed reports in an Indian newspaper that some of its athletes staying at the Commonwealth Games Village had thrown a washing machine from an eighth floor tower to vent their anger at the defeat of the Australian cricket team by India in Bangalore Oct 12.

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The Australian High Commission, in a release here Friday, said the reports took “sloppy journalism to a new low”.

“It is factually wrong, insulting to Australia’s athletes and can only be described as a fantasy. It badly lets down a quality newspaper,” the release said.

The report, quoting sources in the Delhi Police, had said that “enraged by the humiliating loss, some athletes went berserk, destroying electrical fittings and furniture on Tuesday and Wednesday”.

“They also shouted slogans against batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who played a pivotal role in ensuring India’s victory in the Bangalore match.”

However, the Australian release admitted “there were indeed some spirited celebrations involving the Australian team and a number of other teams at the athletes village.”

“We can confirm that in the course of those celebrations a washing machine was damaged, though it remains unclear who did the damage, what their nationality was, and whether it was deliberate or accidental,” Australia said.

“The suggestion that this was a reaction to Australia’s loss in the second Test is completely baseless,” release said. The Australian team’s celebration had nothing to do with cricket, or India, or Sachin Tendulkar, it added.

“Indeed Sachin Tendulkar enjoys enormous respect and affection in Australia,” the release said.

“A recent online poll in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald voted Sachin Tendulkar the greatest batsman ever. Australians ranked him ahead of Don Bradman which is saying something.”

At no point of doing the story, did the reporter contact the High Commission or the Australian Commonwealth Games Association to verify the facts, the release said.

“One can only speculate what the agenda here is,” it added.

“Australia sent its biggest team ever to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. The athletes embraced India and left with wonderful experiences of the people and places that make Delhi the great city that it is,” the release said.

“Australia is very grateful for the welcoming hand that India has extended,” the Australian High Commission statement added.

Meanwhile, reports from Sydney said Friday that an Australian athlete was sent home for bad behaviour this week from the Commonwealth Games and a washing machine was dropped from a balcony in the Australian section of the Games Village after the closing ceremony Thursday.

No one was injured in the Thursday incident, Perry Crosswhite, chief executive of the Australia Commonwealth Games Association, said in remarks published Friday.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted him as saying he was disappointed by the incident Thursday night, after the Commonwealth Games concluded with a sparkling closing ceremony in the heart of the Indian capital.

“We don’t know who did that,” Crosswhite told journalists. “Delhi Police came around and they’ve done an investigation.”

He also revealed that one athlete was sent home a few days ago for bad behaviour but did not reveal the person’s identity. “At the end of the Games, these things happen,” Crosswhite said.

Australia ended on top of the medals tally in the Oct 3-14 Games.