The threat of gun violence in Brazil has been always been hanging over the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and it has just affected one of the most high-profile athletes competing – American swimming great and 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte. According to reports, Lochte was held at the end of a gun somewhere in Rio. The identity of the assailants are yet to be reported, but it is known that had been at a party with other swimmers at the time of the incident.
Lochte had been invited to the party by Brazilian swimmer Thiago Pereira, and he had been there with three of his American teammates, whose identities and actual involvements are yet to be confirmed.
The 32-year-old is now safe, but no further details are not known yet. One of the first things that Lochte did was to call his mother Ileana, who is on her way to meet him. Lochte, the second most decorated American swimmer ever only after Michael Phelps, is now thought to be safe and unhurt at the Team USA base.
Lochte has won one gold medal at the Rio 2016 Games, in the 4x200m freestyle relay, in a team also featuring Michael Phelps, but is likely to carry entirely different memories from the Brazil edition of the Games.
Previously, a media bus had faced gunfire on the way to an Olympics venue, and a bullet found its way through the equestrian media tent, but this is the most high-profile gun-related incident yet.
Update 11:40 am (Brazil time) – Conflicting quotes have emerged as first reactions from the incident. Ryan Lochte's mother has told Fox Sports he was robbed at gunpoint, and that Olympic organisers are aware of an unspecified ‘issue’. However, IOC director of communications Mark Adams has said the gunpoint story is "not true."
Update 12:20 pm (Brazil Time) – Lochte’s mother has come out with more details on the incident speaking to USA Today. She has said that Lochte and at least one of his USA teammates were on way to a party in a car to meet Brazilian swimmer Thiago Pereira. When the car had stopped to get gas, a group with guns and knives had approached them and taken their wallets away.
Update 01:30 pm (Brazil Time) – NBC’s Billy Bush spoke to Lochte on Sunday morning. Lochte confirmed that he and three other swimmers were indeed robbed at gunpoint. It is increasingly appearing as if the authorities are trying to cover up what will be a big blot on the organisation of the Games in Brazil.
Update – The International Olympic Committee confirmed the incident after the United States Olympic Committee initially told the Olympic ruling body the story was false.