Chef de mission Kitty Chiller has defended the decision of many of the Australian Olympic team to skip tomorrow morning’s opening ceremony in Rio.

Only 103 of Australia’s 421-strong team will march in the Parade of Nations at Rio’s famous Maracana Stadium.

Chiller says it is not surprising given the large number of Australians who will be competing the following day.

“But we have issued guidelines which had testimonials from athletes who have marched before.

“We’ve also had advice from the doctor. But we’ve left it up to each team leader to discuss with their athletes.”

Among those to miss out will be Australia’s high-profile swimming team, as well as the yet-to-arrive 61-member athletics squad.

“We don’t push them either way. We left the decision totally up to each individual section,” said Chiller.

Kitty Chiller
Kitty Chiller says it is understandable if athletes competing on day one skip the opening ceremony.

Australia’s women’s polo players will march, despite a virus sweeping through the team earlier this week.

Stingers captain Bronwen Knox says the fact their first match is not until next Tuesday was a big factor in their decision.

“For us, it does come down to competition first,” she said.

“We don’t want to sacrifice our playing ability to go in the opening ceremony, but we’re lucky it doesn’t affect us as much so we’re just really excited to get out there.”

The AOC expects most of the athletes taking part in the opening ceremony to spend between 90 minutes and three hours on their feet.

“Not only is it physically draining, but there are also the emotions that come along with it,” said Knox.