After U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte and three teammates were robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro early yesterday, the city’s ability to assure safety is in deeper doubt than ever despite its stated security force of 85,000 military and police, the Kansas City Star reports. After the pageantry of opening ceremonies, a man was shot and killed outside heavily fortified Maracana Stadium under circumstances that elicited conflicting reports, including those that said it was a would-be mugger who lay dead after trying to assault the chief of security for the ceremony.
With many other disturbing reports of violence involving people in Rio, the lurking fear surged to the forefront yesterday. “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 NBC. “They pulled out their guns. They told the other swimmers to get down on the ground. Adding to the climate of uncertainty, the International Olympic Committee first disputed the reports as “absolutely not true.” Says a Star reporter in Rio: “You constantly look over your shoulder after you get off a bus late at night near your hotel, because you see the high metal fences that cordon off the nice homes around you and you know that there were 10,000 thefts in Rio in May and that violent crime has increased in the desperation of an economic meltdown.”