New Zealand athlete Jason Lee claims he was accosted by men dressed in police uniforms and forced to withdraw cash from ATMs in Rio de Janeiro overnight.
Lee said the men detained him after stopping his car on a highway, before transferring him on to an unmarked car and taking him to several ATMs, where he was forced to withdraw the equivalent of AUD 800.
Both were armed with pistols.
If the experience of the Jiu-Jitsu athlete is anything to go by, the road to Rio has never looked more dangerous.
The national champion, who will not be competing as Jiu-Jitsu is not an Olympic sport, confirmed the scary occurrence on his Twitter page last night.
Lee has lived in Rio for about a year with his partner Laura McQuillan, who is a journalist at Stuff.co.nz, and says safety in the area has only gotten worse — not better.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I could possibly die,” Lee told the publication.
Originally, the men told him they were conducting a routine search for drugs and weapons.
“First he asked me [to] stretch my arms, then patted me down. He grabbed my genital area, which was quite a surprise. At this point it still looked reasonably professional.”
After extensively searching his vehicle, things took a turn.
“[They told me] ‘you can’t drive in Brazil as a foreigner without a passport,’ which I now know isn’t the case at all. The rental car company hadn’t mentioned that to me.
“He starts opening the book, showing me all these passages in Portuguese, which I can sort of read like every third word.”
These are our favourite Olympic uniforms of all time. (Post continues…)
The men demanded that Lee paid them money, or he’d be taken to the federal police.
2016 Olympic organisers have been widely criticised for the state of utilities and accommodation. With the games due to start in 13 days, the Australian Olympic Committee has found the Olympic village — which is expected to be the home for 410 athletes — is uninhabitable.
The AOC encountered plumbing and electrical issues that included “blocked toilets, leaking pipes, exposed wiring, darkened stairwells where no lighting has been installed and dirty floors in need of a massive clean[ing]”.
Temporary accommodation has been organised for the athletes in nearby hotels. The AOC is hopeful that the issues with the Olympic village will be rectified shortly.