Jiu-Jitsu Athlete Jason Lee Kidnapped in Brazil Ahead of 2016 Rio Olympic Games

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2016

Members of the security forces patrol outside the venues for the upcoming 2016 Rio Olympic Games on July 23, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.   / AFP / DAVID GANNON        (Photo credit should read DAVID GANNON/AFP/Getty Images)

Jason Lee, a jiu-jitsu athlete living in Rio de Janeiro, was kidnapped on Saturday and forced to withdraw money from an ATM at gunpoint with the 2016 Olympics less than two weeks away.

The New Zealander took to Twitter after the ordeal, while his girlfriend, Laura McQuillan, a journalist covering the Games in Rio, supplied further details:

Jason Lee @jasonleejitsu

What did you guys get up to yesterday? I got kidnapped. Go Olympics! #Rio2016

Laura McQuillan @mcquillanator

Boyfriend was accosted by Policia Militar cops who drove him to two ATMs and forced him to withdraw cash #roadtorio https://t.co/0iUwh6Zjb5

Per Daniel Peters for the Daily Mail Australia, he wrote on Facebook:

I'm not sure what's more depressing, the fact this stuff is happening to foreigners so close to the Olympic Games or the fact that Brazilians have to live in a society that enables this absolute bulls--t on a daily basis.

This place is well and truly f---ked in every sense of the word imaginable.

Lee subsequently deleted the post but elaborated on the incident to Henry Cooke of Kiwi outlet Stuff.

While driving, the 27-year-old was stopped and searched by armed men dressed in police uniforms.

After being told he was committing an offence by driving as a foreigner without a passport—which is not illegal in Brazil—he was told to hand over 2,000 Brazilian Reais (about $612) or be arrested.

"These guys have pulled me over, they have weapons. I'm not in any position to negotiate," he said.

Lee was forced to drive the wrong way down a highway before the men transferred him to an unmarked vehicle and took him to some ATMs, where he withdrew the money while they stayed in the car to remain hidden from security cameras.

The athlete was released after handing over the money and warned not to report what had happened. Lee added, "I don't think I've ever felt like I could possibly die."

Lee is a national jiu-jitsu champion.
Lee is a national jiu-jitsu champion.CHRISTOPHE SIMON/Getty Images

Per 3AW (h/t the Australian Associated Press, via nine.com.au), Aussie Olympic team chief Kitty Chiller added:

Hearing that, that's not good news at all.

I've only been in the village, I haven't been out and about. The security presence in and around the village has been very strong and very safe.

I've not felt unsafe at all.

Hearing something like that is very disturbing.

Australian athletes are set to arrive in Rio on Monday, but they will be relocated from their assigned apartments after the buildings were deemed "uninhabitable" by officials, according to Peters.

Per Peters, Australian Paralympic sailor Liesl Tesch and team official Sarah Ross were also robbed at gunpoint in June.

Although Lee won't be taking part in the Games as his brand of martial arts is not an Olympic sport, his experiences and those of the Australian athletes will be a major worry this close to August 5.

Rio has already been the subject of widespread concern due to the presence of the Zika virus in Brazil, which has prompted a number of athletes to withdraw from the Games.


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