After months of concerns about possible crime at the Rio Olympics, U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte became one the latest—and most high-profile—victims. Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist, was robbed at gunpoint early Sunday morning alongside three fellow U.S. Olympic Swimming Team teammates.
Lochte, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, and Jimmy Feigen spent late Saturday evening celebrating the last day of the Olympic swimming competition at Club France, a French hospitality house in the Lagoa neighborhood. In the early hours of Sunday morning, the trio began the trip back to the Olympic Village via taxi, but the vehicle was pulled over by individuals posing as police. The assailants did not have police lights on their vehicle but held up badges that looked to be police badges.
The assailants attempted to continue the ruse of being police officers, pulling out guns and ordering the swimmers to get down on the grounds. Lochte, however, was unconvinced and unwilling to do so.
“I refused — I was like, we didn’t do anything wrong, so — I’m not getting down on the ground,” Lochte said in an interview with NBC News following the robbery. Lochte claims one of the assailants then pulled out a gun, cocked it, and held it to Lochte’s forehead, at which point the gold-medalist put his hands up, and the robbers took money and wallets from the teammates.
Initial reports of the robbery were denied by the International Olympic Committee, who claimed that the United States committee had told them the robbery story was false. Lochte himself, who won gold in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay this year, would confirm the robbery later in the day on Instagram but would give few details.
The robbery of the U.S. swimming teammates is one in a string of highly-publicized crimes that have taken place since the start of the Rio Olympics and is helping solidify media buzz that the city is one of the least safe Olympic sites.
Rio Olympics Crime
On August 5th, two Australian rowing coaches were reportedly attacked at knifepoint.
Then, on August 6th, Portugal’s education minister was also robbed a knifepoint when walking near a lake that was home to some of the rowing events.
That same day, a stray bullet landed inside the equestrian media center, harming no one but putting the press on edge.
Later in the week, a media bus was hit by what officials said were rocks, but some reported to be gunfire. The incident left the vehicle with shattered windows, and some passengers experienced lacerations from the broken glass.
The most violent crime linked to the Games took place on August 11th. A police officer from Brazil’s National Security Force who was working security for the Olympics was shot and killed after getting lost with two fellow officers near a slum and coming under gunfire. More than 85,000 security forces are at work for the Rio Olympics, a figure nearly twice that of the London games.