BREAKING: American Swimmers Pulled Off Plane in Rio

Rio-swimmers-NYT

A judge had issued an order to seize passports as doubts emerged over reports United States swimmers had been robbed.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Two American swimmers were pulled off their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities, Olympic officials said Wednesday night, the latest indication that the police are skeptical of the swimmers’ claims that they were held up at gunpoint during the Rio Games.

“The idea that such prominent athletes could be robbed by officers during the Olympics was a huge embarrassment for Brazil, underscoring longstanding concerns about holding the Games in a crime-plagued city like Rio de Janeiro.”

“We can confirm that Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities,” a spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee said. “We are gathering further information.”

“We can confirm that Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities. We are gathering further information.”

— Spokesman for U.S. Olympic Committee

In a case that has grabbed headlines around the world, the gold medalist Ryan Lochte said that after leaving a party early Sunday, he and three other Olympic swimmers from the United States were robbed at gunpoint by men who identified themselves as police officers.

“We have seen media reports that two U.S. citizen athletes were detained. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance.”

— John Kirby, a State Department spokesman

The idea that such prominent athletes could be robbed by officers during the Olympics was a huge embarrassment for Brazil, underscoring longstanding concerns about holding the Games in a crime-plagued city like Rio de Janeiro.

But questions about the Americans’ testimony to the police are turning that embarrassment into anger, with many Brazilians wondering whether the athletes lied about the episode and smeared their country’s reputation.

American officials in Brazil and Washington were scrambling on Wednesday night to figure out what was occurring in Rio de Janeiro, according to senior American officials. Read the rest of this entry »