What travelers can learn from Ryan Lochte getting robbed

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WELL, IT HAPPENED. A FAMOUS OLYMPIAN was robbed at gunpoint. Ryan Lochte and four other Olympic swimmers were held up at gunpoint in Rio during the Olympics. The story was first broken by Lochte’s mother. The International Olympic Committee quickly denied the incident, and then it was confirmed yesterday by Lochte himself.

No one was hurt, and only their wallets were taken. The officers let them keep their cell phones and their credentials. So while the story is scary, it’s not a tragic one. But it’s worth taking a moment to learn a few lessons from Lochte’s experience.

1. Don’t be a hero.

Lochte explained what happened in an interview with NBC.

“We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over. They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground — they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn’t do anything wrong, so — I’m not getting down on the ground.

“And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.”

Let’s do a quick safety lesson: Refusing an order from someone with a gun is not a good idea. People have been killed for less. You should also know, before you go to a city, what type of crime is common, and what you’re dealing with. Lochte’s experience is similar to that of Jason Lee, a jiu-jitsu athlete who was briefly kidnapped in Rio a few weeks before the Olympics by men dressed as police officers, and was forced to go to ATMs to withdraw money for them.

So even if Lochte and his fellow swimmers had been kidnapped, it would likely have been for a brief period of time, and all that would have been lost was money. Heroics, in this case, are pointless and dumb. If someone aims a gun at you, it’s wisest to do what they say. This is not the time to stand up for justice, or to look like a badass.

2. Crime hurts everyone.

Brazil has had a crime problem for a long time. But for years, it was on the decline. It has started spiking again recently thanks in part to political crises and the country’s economic recession. The causes of crime are insanely complex, but they include things like poverty, income inequality, and drugs.

In the run-up to the Olympics, Brazilian authorities attempted to crack down on crime, but not by addressing the root causes — by literally ridding the streets in the nicer parts of town of street children. Street children in Brazil have often run away from home because of drugs or abuse, and are forced to get involved with whomever will take them in: street gangs for the boys, prostitution rings for the girls. Police have been accused of executing street children without trial or charge.

Rio residents have to deal with crime and violence on a day-to-day basis. Lochte’s robbery is a reminder that even we travelers, we privileged few, can’t escape the repercussions of injustice happening in other countries.

3. There are literally hundreds of less prominent victims in these Olympics.

Lochte’s robbery will make news because he’s a fantastic swimmer and a mega-bro who does ridiculously bro-y things like try to trademark the meaningless word, “Jeah.” But he’s going to go home, and he’s going to be fine. There are hundreds of other people who will not be fine after these Olympics.

Brazil is in rough shape. The Olympics and the World Cup were both insanely expensive for a country that couldn’t really afford them, at a time when they could’ve been spending on stuff like education, poverty reduction, and infrastructure. Economic recessions like the one Brazil is experiencing have human costs. Crime is one of those costs.

Don’t forget about Rio when the Olympics end. People will still be there, and will still be in need long after the Olympics have gone.

Consider donating to charities like Oxfam and Brazil Foundation to help out the people of Brazil.

Lack of transparency

The big sporting organizations remained prime examples of a lack of transparency. FIFA wasn't able to resolve its problems, despite changes at the top in 2016. New allegations emerged about how Germany won the right to host the 2006 World Cup. IOC President Thomas Bach declined to ban Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics, passing the buck instead to the sporting federations.

Lochte, a six-time Olympic gold medalist, admitted after that he was intoxicated during the incident after a night of partying, and that he had even sparked the confrontation.

Repercussions and sponsorship

Following the court's decision, Lochte's attorney, Jeff Ostrow, said on Saturday: "We are pleased that the court has finally dismissed the criminal prosecution against Mr. Lochte, while also acknowledging that he committed no crime while in Brazil. We are hopeful that the prosecution accepts the court's decision so that this story can finally be put to rest."

As well as facing criminal charges in Brazil, Lochte was also handed a 10-month suspension from swimming for the US national swim team. His suspension ended on June 30, however his ineligibility to compete at the recent US nationals kept him from qualifying for this month's world championships in Hungary.

Following the fiasco, he was also dropped by a number of his sponsors, including Speedo USA, Ralph Lauren, and skin-care firm Syneron-Candela.

"It's been a long suspension but it's over," Lochte tweeted after his suspension ran out. "I've learned and became a better man from it."

However, prosecutors can still appeal the ruling, while Lochte may face other charges in Brazil, according to local media.

What LochteGate Teaches Us About Travel

How to travel better in the wake of an Olympic-sized scandal

E very four years, we look to the Olympic Games to teach us lessons about perseverance, dedication, and sportsmanship.

This year, however, thanks to the frat-house antics of Ryan Lochte and three other members of the U.S. Swimming Team, the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro have taught us much more—specifically about how to be better travelers.

Let’s review the facts. We know that Lochte and teammates got drunk at a party, took a cab home, stopped at a gas station, trashed a bathroom, then tried to make the whole thing disappear. We know their first attempt at a cover-up included paying off the gas station owner. We also know that after the payoff attempt, they fabricated a story about being robbed at gunpoint—a particularly disturbing development considering locals’ fears about crime in their city.

Beyond these details, there’s much about this embarrassing story we still don’t know. But we have enough information at this point to see that our guys made a litany of bad choices—a few of which any of us could accidentally replicate while traveling abroad.

With this in mind, we thought now was a perfect time to remind ourselves of the “golden rules” of travel:

1. Obey local laws
Just because you’re holding an American passport doesn’t mean you can act abroad the same way you do at home. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the local laws of your destination country and then follow them—or accept the consequences of your actions.

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2. Be respectful
No matter who you are, no matter where you’re traveling, the people with whom you interact are just that: people. And people deserve to be treated with kindness, empathy, and fairness—exactly the way you would want to be treated. (Basically, just play nice.)

3. Be mindful
One of the greatest cultural bridges is sensitivity. Take the time before you travel to educate yourself about some of the issues with which the people in your destination are grappling. Once you understand those issues, be sensitive to them.

4. Think bigger
Remember that locals in your destination country are going to see you as a representative of the United States—even if you don’t want them to. This means everything you do or say will indicate something about the rest of us back home, so do us proud.

You don’t need a degree in international relations to know that it will take a challenging few months to convince Brazilians that Ryan Lochte does not represent everyone under the “Stars and Stripes”. But the best way to overcome this embarrassment is to head down to Rio—or out into the world at large—and be better.

After Ryan Lochte's Dangerous Confrontation in Rio, Here's What to Do If You're Robbed on Vacation

Experts say the U.S. swimmer handled the situation just right — for the most part

Experts say Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte did just the right thing when he was allegedly held at gunpoint and robbed in Rio de Janeiro — for the most part.

Lochte, 32, said he and “three other swimmers” were pulled over by a group of men claiming to be police officers early on Sunday and the men even pulled out guns and instructed the group to get down on the ground.

“I refused, I was like we didn’t do anything wrong, so — I’m not getting down on the ground,” he told NBC News. “And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up, I was like ‘Whatever.'” Lochte says the thieves took his money and wallet, but the group made it out unscathed.

The most important action experts recommend travelers take in this kind of situation? One word: Comply.

“The guidance we’d give anybody who’s being robbed no matter where they are is the same. Whether it’s here in the United States or overseas, what we’d say is to be compliant, but don’t be overly passive,” Tim Bradley, senior director of consulting at Incident Management Group, a Florida-based international security consulting firm, tells PEOPLE.

“As long as they’re just asking you for valuables, those can always be replaced. We don’t recommend resisting at that point, but just trying to be compliant with them.”

Violent crime has become a big issue for Rio officials, and even caused concern among athletes and spectators during the Olympics. Rio mayor Eduardo Paes spoke out about the issue just one month before the Games, condemning state officials over the handling of violent crime: “The state is doing a terrible, horrible job,” he told CNN.

Bradley said that it is rare for a robber to impersonate a police officer, but added that he isn’t surprised that such an act would occur in Rio.

“We haven’t heard that many stories of police impersonations,” he says. “But the street crime in Rio and São Paulo and areas of Brazil is extremely high, so this is hardly surprising that somebody has come up with this.”

Not That Interesting

The Lesson We Can Learn From Ryan Lochte

This week I am very very sad because it's the season finale of Dancing With The Stars. I am completely obsessed with this show. I don't mean I watch it every Monday and have my favorite teams (#teamLindsatron !!). I mean Monday is my rest day from the gym so that I can be at home to watch it. My boyfriend knows not to speak to me when it's on. I cry at least twice an episode. I use all available voting outlets to cast my votes for my favorites. It's a deep obsession. This is the first season I have ever watched this show and I can't believe I lived the previous 22 years of my life without watching this. This is a burden I will carry forever, but all we can do is accept our faults, move forward, and hope for a better future.

My obsession with this show started with a different completely random obsession of mine - elite gymnastics. Most people follow football or baseball but I follow this sport RELIGIOUSLY. I don't know what any of the tricks or skills are called but I know all the athletes' life stories and best events. It's so exciting to me and amazing how these teenagers can commit themselves so fully to something. So obviously when I heard Laurie Hernandez, who was a member of the gold-medal winning women's gymnastics team at the 2016 Olympics,was going to be a competitor on Dancing With The Stars, I had to watch it! I was really only watching it because she is one of the sweetest, most adorable people I've ever seen on television and I knew she'd be an awesome dancer. She was as amazing, as I expected, but what I didn't expect was to become so invested in all of the other story-lines that were happening on the show.

I started watching for Laurie but the contestant I actually became most invested in was Ryan Lochte. I always felt bad for him. He was one of the greatest swimmers, and athletes, of our time, but he will always live in the shadow of Michael Phelps. That has to be a real blow to the self-esteem. This man has 12 Olympics medals, but that's chump change compared to the 28 of his teammate and biggest competitor. An Olympian like Laurie, Ryan Lochte stirred up a lot of controversy during his trip to Rio for the 2016 Olympics. I'm sure most people reading know about it, but long story short, he got drunk and acted the fool with his team-mates and then spun the story to say they had been victim to a gun-point robbery. Then the truth came out and he bailed, leaving his teammates in Rio as he came back to the U.S. Not only were his actions completely immature and unacceptable, but he cemented the idea that other countries have of Americans - that we are all entitled brats. America was understandably outraged with him and what had happened (This is the same American that elected a man who openly admitted to sexual assault to be our president and thought that was fine, BUT I DIGRESS!). He lost endorsements, he got suspended from USA Swimming, and many people will never look up to him the same away again.

So, a few weeks after the conclusion of the Rio Olympics, DWTS started. After his first dance, Ryan was ambushed on stage by protesters wearing anti-Lochte t-shirts and screaming about him being a liar. I know a lot of America watched and thought "Good, he deserves it!". Maybe he did. What he did was inexcusable, but he is human after all. He was already visibly shaken just from the dance itself, and I am sure he knew going in he was not going to be the most popular contestant. He was not a good dancer, but that's why I loved him and why I grew to love this show. Ryan Lochte, famed Olympian, decorated athlete, one of the best in the world - and he was nervous about dancing. This show really isn't about the dancing, it's about doing something that takes you so far out of your comfort zone in front of the entire world. Yes, it's a fun competition where you get to watch stars you love do these intricate dances, but it's really a lesson in how great life can be when you leave your comfort zone. He was clearly terrified, but every week he got out there and did his best, and as time progressed he even enjoyed performing on a different kind of stage than he was used to.

We all know the old saying, "growth happens when you leave your comfort zone", and that is 100%, completely true. Everyone has a comfort zone, even the most outgoing types of personalities have to draw the line somewhere. My comfort zone is the size of a quarter. EVERYTHING scares me. I am EXTREMELY easily embarrassed, and until I was almost a full-grown adult I was painfully shy and afraid to talk to people that I didn't know. A lot of times I'm not even brave enough to try a new kind of food I think I won't like. There's no life in this kind of of mindset. There's no growth, no change, no fun. My comfort zone feels sometimes like it's suffocating me and all I can do is sit at home by myself because that's safe.

Think of what scares you. here are my top 3: Heights, change, and social situations full of people I don't know. I wanted to sit out when all my friends rode the roller coasters at Disney World, but instead I closed my eyes until we reached the top and I allowed myself to enjoy the experience and create life-long memories with people I loved. I wanted to believe the piece of crap boyfriend was who I was supposed to be with because I was so desperate for things to stay how they were, but instead I let him go, moved to a new city, and found my soul mate. After drum corps shows when fans approached me or old instructors asked me to speak with their younger students (I tried to find a way to word that where I didn't sound like an asshole but I couldn't figure it out, please forgive me), I wanted to run the other way and hide, but instead I took the pictures, encouraged them to follow their dreams, let them know I believed in them, and met so many amazing people from all over the world.

Fear isn't just an emotion, it can be a state of mind. It's a terrible one to live in, and the only way to break free is to do those things that terrify you. Whether that's something as simple and wearing the crop top you thought you were "too fat" for, skydiving out of an airplane, or competing on Dancing With The Stars. Take a page out of Ryan Lochte's book (the one where he dances, not the one where he lies about being robbed in a foreign country), and break free from the comfort zone you've created. Stop living a life thats comfortable or convenient. You never know where you might end up or what you might have missed out on otherwise!

Watch the video: Ryan Lochte dumb moments


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