4 US swimmers robbed by armed men who flashed police badges
Four U.S. swimmers were robbed at gunpoint early Sunday morning by men who flashed police badges.
They were taking a taxi back to their rooms in the athlete's village when the presumably fake cops pulled them over, ordered them out, and instructed them to lie on the ground.
U.S. Olympic swimmers Ryan Lochte, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen were robbed at gunpoint while in Rio de Janeiro overnight Saturday, NBC News has confirmed.
Following conflicting reports — including the IOC denying any incident took place — Lochte himself confirmed with TODAY's Billy Bush that he and the other swimmers were robbed at gunpoint.
"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 said. "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."
USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky later told NBC News in a statement: "According to four members of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team (Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, Jimmy Feigen and Ryan Lochte), they left France House early Sunday morning in a taxi headed for the Olympic Village. Their taxi was stopped by individuals posing as armed police officers who demanded the athletes' money and other personal belongings. All four athletes are safe and cooperating with authorities."
Although Rio Olympic organizers and the International Olympic Committee are putting the best face on a horrible situation, the armed robbery of athletes is a clear demonstration why it was a monumental mistake to hold the games in a third-world country.
To claim that the robbery could have occurred in any major city in the world is only partially correct. The notion that fake police (or real ones, considering that the assailants have yet to be identified) could have successfully pulled off a robbery in London, Paris, or any other reasonably advanced Western city is false.
Outside the Olympic security zone, the streets have become shooting galleries. Gangs roam freely, occassionally victimizing tourists and athletes, while the rest of the Olympic games continue to fall apart.
A diving pool that "smells like farts." Lines so long to get into venues that many just give up trying to enter, leaving huge numbers of empty seats. A lack of volunteers to assist officials, leading to more delays. A transportation system that continues to falter.
When these problems first presented themselves last week, officials assured everyone that the kinks would be worked out as the games progressed. We are now halfway through the games, and the problems, if anything, continue to mount as this armed robbery demonstrates.
Dear IOC: Please never, ever award the games to a city in a third-world country ever again.