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Rio Paralympian Mugged, Increased Security Demanded

Image: Rio Paralympian Mugged, Increased Security Demanded
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Wednesday, 22 Jun 2016 10:02 AM

A Paralympian in Rio Rio de Janeiro was mugged in broad daylight in a park on Sunday, prompting Australian Olympic officials to demand the Rio Games organizers immediately improve security as a crime wave continues to sweep the city, reported Agence France-Presse.

Sunday's incident came after an escalation of thefts and robberies in the Brazilian host city ahead of the Olympics which open on Aug. 5, with sportspeople among the victims.

The Australian Paralympic Committee said wheelchair athlete Liesl Tesch and team official Sarah Ross were riding their bikes when they were confronted by two men, one of them carrying a pistol, who demanded money before shoving them off the bikes and riding off on them.

Kate McLoughlin, chef de mission of the Australian Paralympic team, said the pair, in Rio to train at the Paralympic sailing venue, were "understandably shaken but unhurt".

The incident came just days after a Brazilian competitive shooter, who just missed out on a spot on the Olympic team, was shot in the head during an attempted robbery in Rio.

It also followed the armed mugging of members of the Spanish sailing team in the city last month.

Australian Olympic Committee chef de mission Kitty Chiller called on Games organisers to mobilize security forces immediately rather than wait until nearer the event's official opening.

"The Rio organisers need to introduce the extra security precautions as soon as possible before an athlete gets hurt. We have written to them today asking them to address this issue," Chiller said.

"This is not an isolated incident, athletes have been mugged while training or competing in Rio test events and we want our athletes protected.

"This is a major concern and the only answer is for the authorities to put extra police and security on the ground now."

According to the AOC, the Rio Organising Committee has vowed to mobilise 100,000 police, military and other personnel in time for the Olympics with the force remaining in place for the Paralympics which begin on Sept. 7.

"We have briefed our athletes leading into the Games," added Chiller.

"Basically we are saying that if you are confronted by criminals, comply, hand over your belongings and don't argue. That is exactly what the two Paralympians did on Sunday."

Chiller's comments could prove contentious in Rio, where officials were upset in February when the AOC imposed a ban on Australian athletes going into the city's favelas, or urban slums, over security fears.

It prompted Rio mayor Eduardo Paes to reportedly claim "the Australian committee has been a source of aggressions to Brazil".

Tensions also flared in April 2014, when AOC president John Coates called Rio’s preparations the worst he had experienced.

Tesch, a six-time Paralympian who won sailing gold at London 2012 and also has silver and bronze medals in basketball, said Rio was "a pretty scary place to be".

Tesch, who is still able to cycle despite a mountain bike accident when she was 19 that left her partly paraplegic, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that several people saw the incident, but no one helped.

"I think he said 'dinheiro'... which means money, so I lifted up my shirt and said: 'Look I don't have any money'," she told the broadcaster.

"He then said something else and pointed the gun at me and pushed me in the shoulder and I just toppled over with my bicycle and he just grabbed my bicycle, and the other guy was wrestling the bicycle from our team physio.

"And they just rode off into the park. It was absolutely horrific."

© AFP 2017

   
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A Paralympian in Rio Rio de Janeiro was mugged in broad daylight in a park on Sunday, prompting Australian Olympic officials to demand the Rio Games organizers immediately improve security as a crime wave continues to sweep the city.
rio, paralympian, mugged
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2016-02-22
Wednesday, 22 Jun 2016 10:02 AM
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