U.S. swimmer Lochte says gun held to forehead in taxi hold-up

Sun Aug 14, 2016 8:25pm EDT
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By Eduardo Simões and Caroline Stauffer

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Armed robbers posing as police officers held a gun to the forehead of U.S. gold medalist swimmer Ryan Lochte in a taxi hold-up in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, feeding concern over safety at the first Olympic Games in South America.

Lochte was returning to the Athletes' Village from a party hosted by the French Games delegation, with swimming team mates Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen, when armed men carrying police badges pulled them over.

The men told the swimmers to drop to the ground and demanded their money and belongings, Lochte said. When he refused, one of the men cocked a pistol and placed it against the swimmer's head, and he then handed over his wallet.

"While it is true that my teammates and I were the victims of a robbery early Sunday morning, what is most important is that we are safe and unharmed," Lochte said in a statement.

He said he was looking forward to returning to the United States and starting training with an eye to competing at the Tokyo Games in 2020.

The incident stoked worries over the safety of competitors and visitors to Rio, which has a long history of violent crime, though Brazil's sports minister insisted that athletes who remained on the Olympic site had experienced no problems.

"The security operation for these Games has been totally effective," Leonardo Picciani told reporters. "No athlete has had problems in their place of residence, in training or in the Athletes' Village."

Police are investigating the incident and trying to locate the taxi driver involved, police sources said.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Swimming - Semifinal - Men's 200m Individual Medley Semifinals - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 10/08/2016. Ryan Lochte (USA) of USA competes REUTERS/Michael Dalder