The two ignored the urging of Peruvian flag bearer Roberto Carcelen who tried to remind the two that they were at the Olympics to represent Peru (and that they should conduct themselves with respect towards their sponsoring nation). However, the two siblings (who have a German father and Peruvian mother) apparently identify more strongly with their German rather than Peruvian heritage, although the exact reason why they refused to wear the Peruvian uniform is unclear.
Although it may seem like a small thing to break dress code, this is pretty offensive behavior. The Olympics represent a world stage and the opening ceremonies were viewed by millions of people. Being able to represent a nation is a great privilege, and the people who are selected for that role should maintain a certain level of decorum.
Here’s a short video of Roberto Carcelen attempting to explain to a representative of the Reyes siblings that they were required to wear the uniforms agreed upon by the Peruvian Olympic Committee (the audio is intact but there seems to be a slight hitch in the video early on). This argument took place only minutes before the opening ceremonies.
Most of all this situation saddens me. The Reyes siblings had the opportunity to proudly represent Peru, and instead they squandered that chance and slighted the country on an international stage.
But perhaps rather than dwell on the negative, we should focus on the positive and be thankful for Roberto Carcelen’s honorable and respectful conduct. It should be noted that Roberto was severely injured in a training setback recently and is competing at the Olympics with a broken rib. Roberto is not expected to be in medal contention, but perhaps he’s already scored his greatest victory at Sochi by ensuring that the Peruvian flag was carried with respect and dignity at the opening ceremonies with all the honor the flag of any nation rightfully deserves.
El Comercio just posted on this story here.
Peru This Week posted on it here. Although Peru this Week seems to be playing this down a little bit, referring to the incident as a “Minor Kerfuffle.” It’s strange they seem to be sympathetic to the Oettl-Reyes siblings, they even posted this article where the siblings uncle claimed they were never given the uniforms. It’s hard to find credibility in the uncle’s statements in light of the video posted above which has Roberto Carcelen offering to give the uniforms to the Oettl-Reyes handler who declares they’re not going to wear them.