We’ve known for a while now that the Olympics in Brazil, are not — on a macro-scale — off to what could accurately be described as a great start.
The fresh water in and around the sprawling city is so full of sewage that athletes have been advised to cover open wounds while they compete. The mosquito-borne Zika virus, believed to cause microcephaly in infants, is so rampant that some athletes have refused to participate at all. And during the buildup to the games, a massive corruption scandal essentially dismantled the country’s government.
Now, just hours before the Olympics are set to begin, a confusing series of events has proven that these larger scale problems may have just been a harbinger of what was to come when thousands of people flood into Rio for the games. Below FP has rounded up a few of the strangest scenarios to have emerged thus far:
A Russian Diplomat May or May Not Have Killed a Brazilian Thief
On Thursday afternoon, a Brazilian thief wound up dead after a man local authorities identified as Russia’s vice-consul reportedly deflected an attempted robbery at traffic stop. According to initial reports in Brazilian media, the vice-consul was in a car with his wife and daughter when two men on motorcycles confronted them, smashed the driver’s window with a gun, and asked for the driver’s watch. The man driving the car grabbed the motorcyclist and pulled him into the vehicle, where the robber was shot with his own gun. It’s unclear whether his gun was pulled on him or whether he accidentally shot himself, but his body then laid in the street for hours while police investigated the situation.
“The vice-consul got into a physical confrontation with the aggressor, and during the fight, the assailant’s gun was fired several times,” a Brazilian police statement said.
Now Russia is denying that anyone working for their embassy was involved in such an incident at all. Speculation has since emerged that the man who killed the thief was in fact a Brazilian carrying fake papers.
“The embassy of Russia in Brazil informs that no representative of the Russian consul general in Rio de Janeiro was involved in the attempted assault that ended with the death of the suspect in Barra da Tijuca this Thursday,” the consulate told the Guardian.
A Moroccan Olympic Boxer Was Accused of Attempted Sexual Assault
Hassan Saada, a 22-year-old Moroccan boxer, was supposed to compete in his first fight at the Rio Olympics on Saturday. Instead, he will likely be holed up in a Brazilian prison after two waitresses working in the Olympic Village reported on Friday that he attempted to sexually assault them. According to Brazilian police, he will be held for at least 15 days while they investigate his case. Initial reports suggest that he asked the women to pose for a photograph with him, then pushed one of them up against a wall and tried to kiss her. He also allegedly groped another woman and asked her to perform sexual acts on him in exchange for cash.
“It has been necessary to arrest Hassan Saada to investigate the allegations against him,” said Brazilian judge Nunes Saly. “If he was at liberty there would be a risk that he could interfere with witnesses. And there is a risk that Hassan Saada could reoffend.”
A Photojournalist Had Thousands of Dollars in Camera Equipment Stolen from Him
Brett Costello, an award-winning photojournalist for News Corp, was at a cafe in Rio this week when a woman approached him and began speaking in Portuguese. The distraction took his eyes off his camera bag only for a few seconds, but it was enough time for her accomplice to grab his expensive camera equipment and run to a getaway car. “I’m gutted and I feel stupid that I wasn’t wise to their plan,’’ Costello said.
“I know that I’ll probably never see my bag or gear again. And as disappointing as that is, I take solace that I wasn’t injured or hurt,” he said Friday. “The police weren’t overly surprised. There was a camera in the cafe but I don’t think that’s going to help.”
Photo credit: DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images