Media bus attacked in Rio, one journalist injured

Published: Thu, 08/11/2016 - 07:42 Updated: Thu, 08/11/2016 - 07:57

Rivaldo’s warning rings true as brazen instances of criminal violence beset Rio amidst Olympics hoopla

Sandeep Kumar Delhi 

In a shocking incident, two windows of an official Olympics bus carrying journalists and officials were shattered while it was travelling between venues in Rio.As reported, a Turkish journalist suffered minor injuries due to the flying shrapnel as fellow passengers escaped the bus unhurt. The mega event is in its sixth day and the streets of Rio have already been flooded with an upsurge of reported crime. 

Shocking CCTV footage from cameras placed all over Rio have captured some appalling incidents throughout Rio and the areas surrounding it over a period of six months and the situation has not improved yet despite the presence of 85,000 operational security personnel patrolling the Games village. Amidst political turmoil, recession, falling police and firefighting department budgets and the zika threat, Rio certainly was not a popular venue for most athletes. Even Rivaldo, the Brazilian football legend and 1999 Ballon d’Or winner, posted a video with a heartbreaking message on Instagram, asking tourists not to travel to Brazil for the Olympics. 

"Things are getting uglier here every day," Rivaldoposted (via Yahoo). "I advise everyone with plans to visit Brazil for the Olympics in Rio to stay home. You'll be putting your life at risk here. ... Only God can change the situation in our Brazil." 

Videos of groups of child criminals mugging tourists, dispossessing them of jewellery and cash in broad daylight, have gone viral on the Internet.  These bare-chested kids,most of them in their early teens, are seen fearlessly chasing foreigners, snatching their bags and mobile phones.  They don’t even run away amidst cries and chaos, but continue to chase the victim until they get something or the other for their efforts.

Days before the opening ceremony, a press conference on the status of the Olympic equestrian competition was interrupted by a bullet piercing the venue tent. The police had no clue where the bullet had come from.Even the Olympic village has witnessed a number of crimes in the past one month.  A female firefighter was caught unawares when she was sleeping and raped by a security officer in her quarters in the village. The Portuguese Education Minister Tiago BrandãoRodrigues was mugged by a man near the venue for the cycling event. The attacker almost escaped with Rodrigues’ valuables before he was tackled by the locals. Perhaps most tellingly, the head of Olympics security, FelipSeixas,was himselfrobbed at knifepoint around the area.

Of course, such events were common before the Olympics as well. AniketMishra, a media manager for FIFA who visited the city in 2014 to cover the Football World Cup, remembers a city beset by violence and hostility where foreign journalists not only felt unwelcome but were in constant danger of being shot at, making the prospect of going out at night a life-threatening one.This year, on May 7, a 17-year-old girl, Ana Beatriz Pereira Frade, was slain on the way to the airport in Rio. In July, armed thugs carried out four mass hold-ups, and a policeman was killed in a shootout with drug gangs, the 56th officer to die this year in the city. Last week, a joint police and military operation at the Complexo do Alemão, left two people dead. 

The number of homicides in Rio state was up 15 percent in the first four months of 2016 compared to last year, although the figure dipped in May. Street robbery climbed 24 percent this year, according to the latest statistics, which run through April.There were nearly 11,000 reported cases of street robberies in June, anincrease of almost 81 percent from 2015.  In a survey conducted by The Economist, Rio was rated by some distance the most violent city to host the Olympics, leaving behind even Mexico City and Sochi behind.

Rivaldo’s warning rings true as brazen instances of criminal violence beset Rio amidst Olympics hoopla
Sandeep Kumar Delhi 

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