As made clear in a recent column, I am no fan of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or its manifestly negligent decision to choose Rio as the location of this year’s Olympics. For the last year, the IOC has been in the full denial mode as various experts detailed the gross failures of Brazil to address shortfalls in pollution control and infrastructure (including the recent controversy over pools turning green and smelly). Even with the health of athletes at stake, IOC officials have dismissed every health warning concerning the raw sewage in the water events and the rampant crime around the Olympic facilities. The most recent example came with the latest robbery of athletes. In this case, an Olympic star and three other athletes were held and robbed at gunpoint at a gasoline station. Despite public accounts coming from Lochte and his mother, the IOC assured the world media that the story was absolutely false. Nothing to see here. Of course, the story was true but the IOC seems to put truth just behind the health of athletes on the list of its priorities. UPDATE: The police have released videotapes and accounts that sharply contradict the account of Lochte and his friends.
The statements of Lochte’s mother, Ileana, were already published when International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said reports of American swimmer Ryan Lochte being robbed at gunpoint are “absolutely not true.” Ileana Lochte, who is also in Rio, said that her son called her immediately after the “terrifying” incident. Brazilian Swimmer Thiago Pereira, who was at the same party, also confirmed the robbery.
The IOC said that the fault was with the USOC, which gave it false information. Regardless of the source, the desire to immediately deny another robbery of athletes was obvious. It might be a good idea to confirm the information before issuing statements for both the IOC and USOC. Update: a latter investigation contradicted the swimmers though this was not known until after an investigation. The police say that Lochte and his friends destroyed property and paid damages at the scene.