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Crime Threat To Olympic Athletes As Rio Games Draw Near

21st June 2016
Crime against Olympic sailors has raised security fears in Brazil's second largest city Crime against Olympic sailors has raised security fears in Brazil's second largest city Photo: Alicia Nidjam/Wikimedia

#Rio2016 - “I don’t think the Irish media know how bad it is over here in Rio…” So Ireland’s Paralympian John Twomey emailed early this morning, as Afloat.ie's Tom MacSweeney writes.

He was reporting how “two good friends of mine who were in Kinsale for the Para Sailing Worlds in Kinsale in 2013” had been held up by two men, one of whom had a pistol, close to their hotel in Rio on Sunday morning. The Australian Sailing and Paralympic Committees have been told of the incident.

Liesl Tesch and team official Sarah Ross were confronted by two men while riding their bikes in a park near their hotel. One of the men was carrying a pistol and while both were threatened, the bikes were the only property stolen during the incident. Both members were unharmed, but shaken, and took part in racing at the 2016 Paralympic Games sailing venue later in the day.

“We were returning from a morning ride when the incident took place,” said Tesch. “We were close to our hotel when we were confronted by two men, one of whom was armed. I was threatened with the pistol and pushed to the ground.

“He took my bike, and the other perpetrator took Sarah’s bike. We are both shaken, but physically we’re both OK.”

Twomey commented: “These two ladies are good friends of mine and were in Kinsale for the Para Sailing Worlds in Kinsale in 2013. I don't think the Irish media know how bad it is over here in Rio. Perhaps you might keep people informed.”

Sailing teams and other athletes are gathering in Rio for final weeks of training and practice before the Olympics and Paralympics – and if they avoid any similar or even more serious brushes with criminal elements, they may be very lucky indeed.

The Sailing Anarchy website reports another incident when two Team GBR RIBs were stolen from Torben Grael’s Rio Yacht Club in Niteroi, which is reported to have been hit by stray bullets from a nearby gunfight in previous weeks.

Two British team coaches found the RIBs on a beach beach in Jurujuba, not far from the US team’s launching location.

Sailing Anarchy reports: “[The boats were found] as they were being stripped. Already VHFs, fuel hoses, tanks, and wiring were already gone, with outboards next to go. The GBR coaches immediate reaction was to threaten the thieves with calling the police. ‘You think that will help you?’ the head pirate said...

"One of the coaches surreptitiously snapped a pic of the pirates and the Rio Yacht Club staff identified one of them as a top drug dealer in the nearby Jurujuba favela, and told the coach he was very, very lucky.”

Published in Olympic
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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