How they see us: Lochte’s big Olympic lie
In falsely smearing Brazil’s reputation, Ryan Lochte has destroyed his own, said Globo.com. The American goldmedal swimmer claimed last week that he and three teammates were robbed at gunpoint by thugs dressed as cops after a night out partying during the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Brazilians immediately doubted the story, because our criminals never forget to take their victims’ cellphones and fancy watches. Sure enough, police soon revealed that far from being innocent victims, the Americans were in fact the criminals. Security camera footage and witness testimony showed that the inebriated swimmers had stopped at a gas station in the early hours, then vandalized a bathroom and urinated on the floor. After arguing with security guards, the athletes agreed to hand over cash to cover the damage—hardly a robbery. Lochte flew home before police completed their investigation; his sidekicks were questioned by authorities, and one, James Feigen, paid a fine of nearly $11,000 before being allowed to leave the country. Rio was Lochte’s chance to erase the “bad boy image” he earned during a 2013 reality TV show in which he came across as a dim-witted party animal. Instead, he proved to the world that he really is a dumb jock.
Blame “puritanical” America for this mess, said Euler de França Belé in Jornal Opçã(Brazil). Police believe the athletes lied about the robbery because they didn’t want their girlfriends to know they’d been out partying late with Brazilian women. Any Latin American or European would know that lying about an assault is “far more indecent than a sexual escapade.” So perhaps Lochte and his friends really are victims: not of Brazilian crime but of America’s social conservatism, which makes a sin of “tiny issues like sexual betrayals.” In another typically American maneuver, Lochte has turned to spin to save himself, said Correio(Brazil). He hired “the same PR firm that worked with the singer Justin Bieber,” and they dressed him soberly, tidied up his hair, and sent him on TV. He admitted that he “overexaggerated” what happened at the gas station, but absurdly maintained that he had been assaulted, because security guards had pointed their guns as they demanded compensation.
Lochte’s lie has “inflamed the tempers” of Brazilians, said Zarcillo Barbosa in the Jornal da Cidade(Brazil). We love to moan about our corruption and disorganization—after all, our president and most of our lawmakers are under investigation—but “we hate outsiders criticizing us.” In preparation for the Olympics, we “cleaned the house, hid the clutter in closets, swept dirt under the carpet,” and now “the gringo comes here and bad-mouths us?” The U.S. media “demonized Rio in their reports” on the supposed mugging, said Ruy Castro in Folha de São Paulo(Brazil). But when the truth was exposed, they failed to call Lochte “a thug, runaway, coward, and liar.” We’ll have to console ourselves with the knowledge that this debacle has cost Lochte at least $1 million in endorsement money: Sponsors including Speedo and Ralph Lauren have rightly dropped the disgraced athlete.