quinta-feira, 18 de agosto de 2016

US swimmers held at airport


Rio Olympics 2016: US swimmers held at airport

thursday, 8/18/2016

Two US swimmers who were prevented from boarding flights back to the US will talk to Brazilian police today as doubts swirl about claims that they and two teammates had been robbed at gunpoint at the weekend.
The United States Olympic Committee said the swimmers, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, were released by Brazilian police on “the understanding that they would continue their discussions about the incident on Thursday”.
A third swimmer, James Feigen, was also communicating with police and would make further statements on the incident on Thursday as well, the USOC said.
On Sunday, multiple Olympic medallist Ryan Lochte along with the other three swimmers claimed they were robbed by men dressed as police officers after leaving a party. But Brazilian authorities have said the men have given inconsistent accounts of the alleged incident.
The episode has threatened to sour the image of the games. The apparently brazen robbery came amid a massive security operation mounted by police with 85,000 personnel on the streets. It also followed numerous accounts of robberies by foreign officials, athletes and tourists and even Brazilian officials visiting Rio. In the latest, a British athlete was robbed on Wednesday. Team GB did not name the athlete but said all of its competitors were safe and well.
Local television station Globo News showed footage on Wednesday of Mr Bentz and Mr Conger being escorted to the police station at Rio de Janeiro’s international airport.
Mr Lochte, one of the US Olympic team’s star swimmers, has returned to the US.
A Brazilian judge ordered that Mr Lochte and Mr Feigen should have their passports seized to prevent them from leaving the country as the police continue their investigation into the alleged robbery.
The four had said they were in a taxi leaving a party at France House near the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in the early hours of Sunday morning. Mr Lochte told US television network NBC that they had been robbed at gunpoint.
But the Brazilian court has alleged that during separate interviews, the swimmers gave different accounts of the incident. While Mr Lochte said they had been robbed by one man who took $400 in cash, Mr Feigen said they were approached by several men, the court said.
Lochte appeared to change his account in an interview overnight on Wednesday with NBC. Instead of an assailant holding a gun to his forehead as he had earlier recounted, he now said the gun was pointed in his general direction.
He also said the incident occurred at a petrol station when their taxi driver refused to drive away and two assailants then approached and carried out the robbery. Previously, he had said the assailants had pulled over the taxi.
Mark Adams, a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee, said: “We broadly support the Brazilian police response.”
A US government official, referring to media reports of the swimmers being detained, said: “We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. Due to privacy considerations we do not have any further information to offer.”
(Published by Financial Times - August 18, 2016)

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