Please read the UPDATE to this story here.
Two Americans swimmers in Rio were removed from their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities Wednesday and had their passports temporarily confiscated amid an investigation into the alleged robbery of the swimmers during the Olympics, authorities said.
Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were awaiting takeoff when they were removed from their plane and briefly held at the airport, sources told NBC Sports.
…The developments came after a Brazilian judge issued an order to seize the passports belonging to American swimmers Ryan Lochte and Feigen, prohibiting the Olympians from leaving the country.
Lochte was already back in the United States, and his lawyer said Wednesday he was being treated like a “pawn” by Brazilian authorities to get out from under the “dark cloud around these Olympics.” Feigen is still in Brazil, where Lochte’s attorney told NBC he is stuck. Sources at the Rio airport told NBC that Feigen checked in online for his flight home but never arrived at the airport, where his passport would have been confiscated.
In case you haven’t heard about this, a group of American swimmers claimed that they had been robbed at gunpoint while in Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics. To my knowledge, no one is disputing their claim.
Rio de Janeiro is infamous for its high crime rate and seems to be somewhat embarrassed by it (Several years ago, I spent time in one of Rio’s massive favelas doing mission work. I saw the poverty, crime and lack of law enforcement first hand). The Brazilian government seems to have a massive chip on its shoulder regarding it.
Here’s the speculation (and it’s only speculation): After word got out that these American swimmers had been robbed at gunpoint, the Brazilian government was not happy; Not necessarily because the event had taken place, but because these Americans had had the audacity to embarrass Rio and Brazil in front of the entire world.
And, rather than take statements from them privately, they decided to, in essence, hold them hostage and prevent them from leaving the country until they testify under oath.
Look, I’m not an expert on international relations. I don’t know what protocol is in this situation. But I do know that the people of Brazil don’t have the same due process rights as Americans. I also know that the Brazilian government is utterly corrupt (it’s like an entire government made up of Hillary Clintons). And preventing these popular Olympians from returning home is going to be worse for them from a PR standpoint than one armed robbery in a city of 12 million people.