THE Australian Olympic Committee suspects speculation on social media - not an informed tip-off - caused a plunge on Lauren Jackson being Australia's opening ceremony flag bearer, causing bookmakers to suspend betting.
Confirming that he informed the star basketballer she was his selection on Monday, Australian team chef de mission Nick Green told The Saturday Age yesterday that for three days they were the only two who knew. Green said that circle only widened less than 24 hours before the honour was announced at a team reception on Thursday night.
A first-time chef de mission, Green said he would not change any element of how he managed the selection and announcement, though the suggestion that the information leaked was not a good look.
''I know who the circle is that knew,'' Green said, ''and it was a very, very small group. By the end of it was six people. The circle needed to widen a little bit for logistical reasons, but that circle was widened probably with 24 hours to go. Or even less than 24 hours.
''I think people might have speculated with all the banter that's been going on, though I haven't been following it closely, to be honest … but really it was only in the last 12 hours that there were articles saying that Lauren had gone to favourite. I'm not a betting person, but obviously someone's taken a punt, and might have been on the money.
''It happened, but I don't want it to cloud the choice.''
When he told Jackson on Monday that he had chosen her, Green stressed that the information was sensitive and believes the Opals captain respected that.
''The [women's basketball] team was finalising its preparations in France and Lauren came back for a bit of rest and there was a unique opportunity while no one else was around just to have a discussion with Lauren and float the idea,'' Green said.
''My first question to Lauren was, 'Can you keep a secret?' and she said, 'Yes'. And I said, 'I want you to be the flag bearer'.''
In a media conference yesterday Green eschewed questions about whether there would be a probe into the matter, but an Australian Olympic Committee spokesman later told The Saturday Age that there were no plans to investigate.