AARON COOPER & DAVID SIMON
Australian Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller has banned Australian athletes from popular Rio beaches Copacabana and Ipanema after dark following reports that American swimmer Ryan Lochte was robbed at gun-point.
Fox Sports exclusively broke the story this morning, confirming that Lochte, fellow American swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Felgen and Brazilian Thiago Pereira were robbed by individuals posing as police officers following an after-party the group attended in the early hours of Sunday morning.
These claims were confirmed by the United States Olympic Committee this morning.
There were not believed to be any Australians at the event, but Chiller and the Australian Olympic Committee have increased security, asked athletes to avoid night-life in the popular tourist destinations and have instructed our athletes to remain on high-alert.
“We are reiterating our initial protocol which is always travel in groups of three, but we’ve put now the Copa and Ipanema beaches – the sand – off limits. There has been a lot of increased petty criminal activity on the actual beaches,” Chiller said.
“If they’re travelling at night after dark between 6pm and 6am, then it’s only by vehicle and not by foot.”
As the first week of the games comes to a close, a number of athletes have finished competition and have earned some well-deserved time to let their hair down. Chiller has increased protocols regarding team apparel and suggested avoiding specific parts of the Brazilian city during the team’s time outside the Athletes’ Village.
“Those people going out on leave recreation are not to wear team uniform,” she said.
“We’re also highly encouraging our athletes that we found a couple of areas to go to rather than travel into town because the Copa and Ipanema downtown area seems to be where most of the unsavoury activity is happening.”
Lochte, who had won Gold as part of the United States’ 4×100 medley relay team earlier in the evening, has told NBC news of the ordeal.
“We got pulled over and these guys came out a police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge,” Lochte said.
“They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground and they got down on the ground.
“He took our money, he took my wallet but he left my cell phone and my credentials.”
Australian water polo player, Billy Miller who competed at the London games in 2012 said when players left the village they were absolutely inundated by members of the public.
“As soon as you left the village, you were swamped,” he said.
“We were at Stratford in London and there was a big Westfield (shopping centre) there and you used to walk in there and you would just get swamped.”
Mr Miller also confirmed Kitty Chiller’s sentiment in not allowing the athletes to wear team uniform outside the Olympic village for security reasons.
“You were (allowed to wear team dress out) but you were advised not to,” he said.