Sports

Rio Olympic Organizers Say Media Bus Was Stoned; Witness Not So Sure

On Tuesday night, a media bus was traveling from Olympic venues when journalists on board said they heard a "pop pop" that shattered two windows and left at least two people bleeding.
August 10, 2016, 10:12pm
Photo by Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday night at around 7:30, a media bus was traveling from the Olympic venues in Deodoro to the main press center in Barra when journalists on board said they heard a "pop pop" that shattered two windows and left at least two people bleeding.

At a Wednesday morning press briefing, Rio 2016 security director Luiz Fernando Correa called it "an unfortunate event."

Depending on whom you believe, it was either caused by a rock (according to Rio 2016 officials) or bullets (according to a witness).

Read More: What Does Billions in Security Measures Get You in Rio? Not Much

"From a preliminary report, we believe it was a stone and not firearms," Correa said Wednesday. "Whether it was thrown by and or something else, we don't know."

Correa also deemed it "an act of vandalism" rather than criminal intention to cause harm.

Lee Michaelson, a writer for Hoopfeed.com, wasn't so sure. She was on that bus Tuesday night, along with about ten others, including a Reuters photographer who had been embedded in Iraq.

During the briefing, Michaelson asked officials pointed questions about protocol and was swarmed by camera crews afterward. She called the official account "happy horseshit."

"Come on now," said Michaelson, who is also a retired Air Force captain. "Two points of impact, the bus moving a good 45-50 miles per hour down a highway. To hit at exactly shoulder-to-head level, in the windows? They should add that to the Olympic Games."

"It certainly does [sound like spin]," she said. "I will apologize to them if I see a convincing forensic and ballistics report examining the right part of the bus from a competent authority that doesn't have an incentive to put a friendly face on this."

Images of the damage caused to a media bus when it was attacked while travelling between venues at — PA Sport (@pasport)August 10, 2016

During the press conference, Michaelson asked why the driver didn't immediately speed away, why there was no clearly marked first aid kit or materials in evidence on the bus, and alleged that neither the driver, police officer, or anyone from Rio 2016 interviewed everyone on the bus or offered treatment.

Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada said, "You have to understand that the driver's first actions were taken under emotion; better training could have prevented that. If medical care was not provided, we apologize and [will] make sure it doesn't happen again. If we made mistakes, we are going to apologize to every one of the journalists."

"I don't know that I need to be apologized to," Michaelson told reporters.

"I think everyone's trying to avoid [these] situations," she said, but "the question is whether they're in a good position as far as responding."

Based on Tuesday's events, she said, "I have no confidence whatsoever that should something more serious were to happen that they would be equipped to deal with the situation."

Yet Andrada stuck to his earlier claim that Rio would be "the safest city in the world" during the Games.

"That's our mission," he said. "When an athlete says he's going to win and doesn't win, he doesn't regret saying that. We are convinced that we can guarantee the safety of athletes, journalists, fans, and volunteers."

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