The Australian Olympic Committee banned its Rio 2016 teams from going to the beach following safety concerns and prior thefts in the area.
The decision came on Sunday following the escape of a group of United States swimmers from a threatening situation in the morning. After the swimming competition was over, Ryan Lochte with his three peers were robbed at gunpoint. Lochte confirmed that the thieves posed as policemen while they robbed them. The incident took place while the four of them rode back in a taxi to the athletes’ village.
“The guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, get down and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever’,” Lochte said. “He took our money, he took my wallet – he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.”
The athletes are free to walk and roam about all the areas in daylight but the committee has restricted them to do so in the dark. It does not want its players to suffer the same misfortune. In June, two members of the Australian Paralympic sailing squad underwent the same robbing experience. They were robbed while preparing themselves for the Rio 2016 Games.
During a fire evacuation recently, thieves took advantage of loose security and stole a laptop along with Zika-protective team shirts of the Olympians. Another incident was recorded on the eve of the Olympics opening ceremony where two Olympics rowing coaches were robbed at knifepoint while they were returning to their hotel.
The series of incidents has led the committee to impose restrictions on the athletes and make sure they remain safe and protected. The Australian authorities have announced that no Aussie Olympian should be found stepping at the popular beaches in Rio from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am.
“Security is our primary concern for our athletes and team members…. For those [athletes] who have finished their competition, we have introduced further security protocols, especially for those traveling to the Ipanema and Copacabana area to ensure above all else we keep our team members safe,” the committee officials stated.
“We reiterated our initial protocols, which is that they should travel in groups of three. We have now put the actual sand on the Ipanema and Copacabana beaches off limits [from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.]. There has been an increase in petty criminal — but still criminal — activity on the beaches.”
The announcement also added that in case an Olympian is traveling in the dark, he must ride a vehicle and avoid walking. According to Fox Sports, this too will only be allowed if the athletes will remain at a distance between 400 and 500 meters.