Honest to god, at this point if you were in any way involved with the PR department of the Rio Olympics, you’d have to consider walking out of work and never returning. It just ain’t worth it anymore.
Following on from that yarn about Australian athletes taking one look at the miserable-sounding condition of the Olympics Athlete’s Village and declaring in one voice “Yeah, nah” we’ve got another ridiculous, almighty tale of woe from the highly trouble Brazilian host city.
New Zealand-born fighter Jason Lee has detailed a frankly terrifying-sounding encounter with corrupt police officers in Rio, which resulted in him being effectively ‘kidnapped’ and extorted out of a large sum of money.
Lee, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter, currently lives in Rio with his partner having relocated to the country a year or so ago to pursue his fighting career. BJJ is not an Olympic sport and thus Lee is not part of the Kiwi Olympic contingent.
On Sunday, police pulled Lee off a highway in what at first appeared to be a routine traffic stop, as he detailed to NZ-based publication Stuff.
“First he asked me stretch my arms, then patted me down. He grabbed my genital area, which was quite a surprise. At this point it still looked reasonably professional.”
Lee, who was driving a rental car, was asked to hand over his license and registration info, which is when things started getting really hairy.
Police officers returned to Lee’s car brandishing a large book, asserting that he was breaking Brazilian law by driving without a passport (which is 100% not true).
“He says ‘you can’t drive in Brazil as a foreigner without a passport,’ which I now know isn’t the case at all. The rental car company hadn’t mentioned that to me.”
“He starts opening the book, showing me all these passages in Portuguese, which I can sort of read like every third word.”
At this point, the officer demanded that Lee pay them the equivalent of about 2,000 Brazilian reals, or around AUD$822. If he refused, they claimed, he would be arrested and hauled in front of the Brazilian Federal Police.
Lee didn’t have that much money on him, so they demanded he follow them to an ATM where he could withdraw the money to give to them. They forced Lee to drive the wrong way down a highway, before directing him to pull off the road next to a concrete police bunker beneath an underpass. From there, he was ordered to exit his vehicle and enter an unmarked car, because Lee’s rental car did not have tinted windows and the cops were adamant about not being seen.
“These guys have pulled me over, they have weapons. I’m not in any position to negotiate.”
“At this point I acknowledged to myself that I’ve completely backed myself into a corner.”
Lee was then driven to a nearby group of shops where he withdrew the cash from several different machines; the police officer who took him there remained in the car to avoid being captured on CCTV. He was then driven back to the bunker where he handed the money over and was finally released.
Fearful that drugs had been planted in his car, Lee immediately returned the rental and caught an Uber home.
The corrupt police had given Lee stern warnings about reporting the incident, but he did so anyway to the Brazilian tourist police.
“[The corrupt officer] said ‘you can’t say anything to anyone about this, not a word.'”
“I was umming and ahhing about whether I should even make a complaint. One of the guys I was reporting it to said ‘we understand you are hesitant, because we are the Police, and that branch of the Police is so scary even we are afraid of them’.”
Lee, and his partner Laura McQuillan who lives in Brazil with him and happens to work for Stuff, posted about the incident on social media.
What did you guys get up to yesterday?
I got kidnapped. Go Olympics!#Rio2016
— Jason Lee (@jasonleejitsu) July 24, 2016
— Laura McQuillan (@mcquillanatorz) July 24, 2016
The Olympics are gonna be a fkn blast, y’all.
Photo: Jason Lee/Facebook.