Olympics

Opinion: Lochte is a victim and Rio is the suspect

I haven’t done an opinion piece on this site in our brief existence. I have also purposely stayed away from rumor in attempting to make this site as reliable and honest as possible. 

Today, that streak ends. 

On Sunday I reported about the alleged robbery that former Gator and current USA swimmer Ryan Lochte endured after a late night party. You can read my article on Lochte’s account of what happened here.  

Unfortunately for everyone involved, the story didn’t end there. 

On Wednesday it was widely reported that Brazilian government officials were seeking to speak with Lochte and fellow swimmer James Feigen and a Brazilian judge had ordered the two to stay in Brazil.

Lochte, however was already home in the United States, and according to NBC’s Matt Lauer never changed his schedule as far as leaving Brazil. 

Lauer went on to report that Lochte was actually scared to speak out about the incident because he thought he may be in trouble, but learned that because he is over 21 he is allowed to leave the Olympic Village as he desire. 

Lauer even went as far as to ask Lochte about the rumors of the Americans making the report up to hide the fact that they had engaged in activity that would be frowned upon. Lochte denied those allegations. 

On Wednesday night, the other two swimmers involved, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz, were reportedly pulled off an airplane destined home by Brazilian authorities. The USOC has confirmed those reports. 

Lauer’s report mentioned that Feigen had checked into the flight online, but never showed up to the airport, leaving his whereabouts unknown. 

Maybe Ryan Lochte is a liar. But, maybe he isn’t. I don’t know Lochte personally, therefore I don’t know what to believe. Obviously I’d love to believe that the greatest Gator Olympian is an honest person, but again, I just don’t know. 

What the bigger issue is: Brazil should never have been the host site. It has been one issue after the next. From the Olympic water to the violence on the streets of Rio De Janeiro. 

The day before the Opening Ceremonies a bus full of tourists was shot at, but fortunately no one was injured. There have been many videos (however unverified) of young people robbing tourists of cell phones and wallets. 

This is a dangerous place for tourists and Olympic athletes. 

In the last ten years Brazil has had more than 60,000 unsolved murders. Yet, two swimmers were pulled off an airplane for POSSIBLY falsifying a police report. 

Even without knowing if Lochte and the other swimmers are lying, the games being in Rio De Janeiro make doubting this story unfair to the accusers. 

UPDATE (11:55PM EST): James Feigen is safe in Brazil:

“I’m just trying to give Brazil what they need or what they want and get out of here,” Feigen told USA TODAY Sports during a telephone interview. “It’s a hassle. But I’m safe, everything’s fine.”

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