Updated: Shot Fired Inside Equestrian Venue At The Olympic Games

Aug 6, 2016 - 10:59 AM
The equestrian media center at the Rio Olympic Games is located 50 meters from the field of play. Lindsay Berreth photo.

Rio de Janeiro—Aug. 6

A bullet landed in the equestrian media center at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. No one was injured.

The media center is a large semi-permanent tent fewer than 50 meters from the field of play. The shot was fired around 1:13, during the lunch break on Day 1 of eventing dressage.

Over 100 members of the equestrian media were finishing up lunch and getting ready to return to photograph and report on the competition when a loud bang startled the room.

“I looked up because I thought that a light unit had fallen down or that someone had dropped a camera,” said British freelance photographer Jon Stroud. “Then I looked on the floor and saw the bullet and was gobsmacked.”

Stroud snapped photos of the large caliber bullet, which landed two meters behind him.

“The press officers radioed security or the military, and there was a discussion about what happened,” said Stroud.

No members of the military police, security force or any other official interviewed Stroud, only “every television, radio network and newspaper in the world.”

“In European culture we expect this would immediately become a crime scene,” he continued. “No one was evacuated. Work continued as normal.”

Director of Communications for the Rio Olympic Games Mario Andrada addressed the media in a press conference around 5:15 p.m. He described the shot as an “unfortunate incident,” and said authorities are investigating, with local police measuring the trajectory of the bullet. He offered no information about what type of weapon it came from or from where it was fired. He also emphasized that the venue is locataed on a military facility.

“In the meantime authorities have assured us that they have reinforced security around this area,” he said. “More than one source in different security areas has emphasized with 100 percent assurance that this has nothing to do with the Games, the Olympic family or the press.”

Andrada agreed that “it would have been better” had the area been treated as a crime scene. He emphasized that the security team in charge of the National Equestrian Center is “probably the best one that we have.” Security professionals considered clearing the area but determined that it wasn’t necessary.

He was asked how he would reassure the athletes, horse owners, staff and journalists at the National Equestrian Center who have come from all over the world for the Games.

“All lives are important—horses, dogs, people,” he said. “We need to secure the integrity of every life that is in this area. The relevant authorities, as I told you in the beginning, have assured us that there is no further risk and that the police have been reinforced, and everyone that is here to work and compete is safe.”

Andrada acknowledged that there have been problems with the venue, including a lack of food and air conditioning, and, notably, broken security scanners at the entrance to the facility.

He promised to keep the media updated as more information became available.

The equestrian Olympic venue is situated in Deodoro area in the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro, far from the touristy neighborhoods near the beach. Deodoro is one of four major regions of the city hosting Olympic events, and is home to modern pentathlon, BMX, shooting, mountain biking and other sports. The National Equestrian Center, built for the 2007 Pan American Games, only hosts horse sports. It is located near the National Shooting Center, where the Olympic shooting is taking place.

The region has a strong military influence, home to Brazil’s largest barracks and multiple military schools, and Deodoro hosted the 2011 World Military Games. There is a strong military and police presence inside and around the venue.

Deodoro is also a vibrant, friendly community, and many families came out to watch the torch pass through the area on Aug. 4.

Story updated at 6:30 p.m. local time Aug. 6.

Mollie Bailey and Lindsay Berreth are on the ground in Rio de Janeiro for the Chronicle and will be reporting with all the news, fantastic photos and behind-the-scenes details all posted on www.coth.com. Your go-to page for all things Olympic is http://www.chronofhorse.com/2016-Olympics

We’ll have live blogs of competition sessions, Twitter updates, blogs, photo galleries, stories about each day’s competition and so much more. Don’t miss a thing—we’ll have everything you need to know. Also make sure to follow along on the Chronicle’s social media outlets: FacebookTwitterInstagram and Snapchat (@chronofhorse).

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