Whether Ryan Lochte and three other American swimmers were robbed at gunpoint or not during a Sunday night out on the town in Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics, the controversy developing around Lochte’s retelling of the alleged crime has suddenly become a referendum on the safety of these entire Games.
The plot thickened Wednesday when two American swimmers were barred from leaving the country by Brazilian officials, and Lochte slightly changed some of the details he had previously shared about the incident.
During NBC’s prime-time Olympic broadcast, host Matt Lauer told anchor Bob Costas of a telephone interview he had with Lochte earlier in the evening. Lauer said Lochte was steadfast in saying the robbery took place and denied the notion that the swimmers had concocted a story to cover for some other behavior.
“I wouldn’t make up a story like this, nor would the others,” Lochte said, according to Lauer.
But Lauer said Lochte did alter two details from his earlier account, now saying their taxi had not been pulled over but had never left the gas station the swimmers were leaving. He also noted the gun had been pointed in his direction, not pressed to his forehead.
Earlier Wednesday, a Brazilian judge ruled that the passports of Lochte and U.S. swimmer James Feigen should be seized after discrepancies emerged in their accounts of what transpired in the early hours of Sunday morning, after leaving a dance party at the Club France official Olympic hospitality venue.
Lochte has already returned to the United States as previously scheduled.
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