Bad things are happening in Rio. Or maybe not.
On Sunday, American swimmer Ryan Lochte shared a tale of being robbed at gunpoint by some men flashing police badges after a night out on the town. Or more accurately, his mother Illena told a reporter about it, then the International Olympic Committee denied that any such thing had happened, then the 12-time Olympic medalist stood on the beach with NBC and provided all the harrowing details. “They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground—they got down on the ground. I refused,” the platinum-haired 32-year-old told the Olympic broadcaster. “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.’ ”
Now it seems the police have some questions. Like why surveillance video shows the seemingly unruffled quartet returning to the Athletes Village, just before 7 a.m., hours after the alleged incident. Or why the robbers didn’t take the swimmers’ phones or Olympic accreditations. “In statements given to the police, swimmers said they were so drunk they could not tell where exactly were stolen, although they said it would have been in the pond,” says this magical Google translate version of a story on a Brazilian television network’s website, today. “Also they said they would not know how to define the type of taxi that took.”
Then there’s Great Britain’s track cycling team, winners of 11 medals — six gold, four silver, and a bronze — at the Olympic Velodrome, a little more than a year after they failed to win any at all at the World Championships in Paris. Rivals are wondering aloud at the stunning turn around. ‘The recipe should be asked for from our neighbours because I don’t understand. I don’t know what they’re doing I’d love to know,” said Laurent Gané, the French sprint cycling coach and a former gold medalist. “These are teams that do nothing extraordinary for four years and once they arrive at the Olympics they out-class the rest of the world.” German star Kristina Vogel called it all “very questionable.” Australian champion Anna Meares said she was scratching her head at how so many Brits improved so much, in such short time. Great Britain’s head coach, Ian Dyer, reacted hotly to the insinuations of cheating, which have been aired before in London 2012, and at the Tour de France over the past four years. “Some of the teams simply haven’t shown up,” he said. “Some people here are not even performing at the level of World Championships.”
The International Boxing Association, AIBA, has sent home such judges and referees after some odd and controversial decisions in the ring, admitting that an unspecified “handful” were “not at the level expected,” although the results will stand. The move comes after Irish fighter Michael Conlan, having lost on points to a Russian, flipped the judges the bird, then went on live TV to deliver a sweary rant. And favoured American middle-weight, Gary Russell, lost on a split-decision to an unheralded boxer from Uzbekistan. Not that the fix was in. At least according to AIBA. “With regard to corruption, we would like to strongly restate that unless tangible proof is put forward, not rumours, we will continue to use any means, including legal or disciplinary actions to protect our sport and its [referee and judging] community whose integrity is constantly put into question,” sniffed the press release. “The organization will not be deterred by subjective judgements made by discontented parties.”
The Rio Organizing Committee has admitted that just 12 per cent of tickets for the Paralympics, which begin September 17, have been sold. The Brazilian fans booed French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie again, this time as he stepped to the podium to receive his silver medal, reducing him to tears. The head of the Irish Olympic Committee, Pat Hickey, has been arrested as part of a police probe into ticket scalping. Or maybe we all just imagined it.
And Japanese pole vaulter Hiroki Ogita has come forward to dispute a video that has been circulating online that some suggest shows his penis knocking off the bar, costing him the chance to progress past the qualifying stage. “I never expected the foreign media to take me down like this,” the 28-year-old posted on his Twitter account. “It’s one thing if it was true, but I have to say I’m pretty devastated that they’d go so far to make something up to mock and ridicule me so much.”
Rio, the place where everything totally didn’t happen.