Confirming the security concerns at the strained Rio Olympics, American swimmer Ryan Lochte was robbed at gunpoint on his way back to the Olympic Village late Saturday night. The Olympian was leaving a party with three other members of the U.S. Olympic Swim team, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen, when their taxi was pulled over by two people allegedly dressed as police officers.
"We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over," Lochte told Today's Billy Bush. "They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground — they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn't do anything wrong, so — I'm not getting down on the ground."
"And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, "Get down," and I put my hands up, I was like 'whatever.' He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cell phone, he left my credentials."
Despite Lochte's nonchalant tone, a gunpoint robbery is one of the scariest, although hardly the first, incidents to befall an Olympic participant in Rio. A Rio Olympics police officer was shot dead after mistakenly entering one of Rio's favelas and two Australian rowing coaches were robbed at knifepoint the day after the Opening Ceremony.
Nearly 85,000 security officers have been deployed in Rio to maintain law and order during the Games, the largest ever deployed during the Olympics. According to one security worker, the recruitment process for one of contracted security firms may have left athletes and spectators vulnerable. The anonymous source told CNN that he was not asked to provide a criminal record and that a short online training course was the only requirement for getting hired. Rio is notoriously dangerous, particularly to tourists, and untrained security forces are unlikely to be able to combat that level of crime.
Lochte finished his competition on Thursday, so luckily the incident won't interfere with his performance. Other athletes may not be so lucky — with one week still left in Rio and still insufficient crime reduction, the same fate might befall another athlete who still has to compete.