Rio Olympics 2016: Thousands throw their support behind swimmer after she was banned from attending the closing ceremony

By Josh Hanrahan, AAP

Thousands of Australians have thrown their support behind top swimmer Emma McKeon, declaring the punishment handed down to her for enjoying a late night out in Rio too harsh.

McKeon - who won four medals in the pool at Rio - was banned from marching at Monday morning's closing ceremony for failing to notify Australian team officials of her whereabouts while partying in the Brazilian capital.

Australian Olympic Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller handed down the punishment on Thursday, banning McKeon, 22, and teammate Josh Palmer - who was also out late.

However the decision has led to backlash from the Australian team and public, with more than 12,500 people signing a petition on Change.org started by McKeon's friend and 2012 Olympic gold medal swimmer Melanie Wright.

"Emma Mckeon made a simple mistake in not texting team management her whereabouts after being separated from her teammates," Wright posted on the petition.

"She opted not to travel back to the Olympic village alone, as per AOC safety protocol, and instead stayed with female swimming friends overnight.

"Emma should receive a sanction for failing to inform team management but a ban from the closing ceremony is too harsh.

"Please help to rectify this knee jerk overreaction."

Since being started on Friday morning the online petition has been flooded with signatures.

The decision to ban McKeon, who was tipped to be Australia's flag bearer at the ceremony, has even drawn the ire of high-profile stars from other sports, including former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.

"The MOST overrated word in team sport...curfew. @emma_mckeon you were brilliant at these Olympics," Gilchrist tweeted.

Australian Diamonds representative Nat Medhurst and former Wallaby Lote Tuqiri have also shared links to the petition on Twitter.

McKeon was separated from her Australian teammates on a night out and followed protocol by not catching a cab back to the village by herself, but by failing to contact team managers to let them know where she was broke that protocol.

"To clarify, I've followed AOC safety protocol in not travelling to village alone. My error was not texting my team manager. #noclosingforme," McKeon tweeted.

On top of the ban, she's been given a curfew of 8pm to 8am at the athletes' village for the remainder of the Rio Games.

McKeon's punishment matched the one dished out to fellow Australian swimmer Josh Palmer.

Palmer moved on to a beach after his night of partying and was missing until 2pm the next day when he was found disoriented and without his phone or wallet.

Australian athletes have been told to be vigilant when out in Rio, to mingle in groups and not openly display expensive possessions such as smart phones.

- Daily Mail

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