Portugal’s education and sports minister robbed during Rio 2016 Olympics

© Ricardo Moraes
The Portuguese education and sports minister was robbed at the Olympic lake in Rio de Janeiro, where rowing events have been taking place during the ongoing Games. The minister was unharmed, according to Portuguese authorities.

Tiago Brandao Rodrigues, Portugal’s education and sports minister, had been returning to his hotel from the Olympic cycling road race accompanied by his aide, when he was approached by two men, who threatened him with a knife and forced him to hand over cash and a mobile phone.

Neither the minister, nor his aide suffered any injuries. The incident took place near the Ipanema beach, where the minister’s hotel is located. The robbers fled the scene after taking the valuables but one of them was intercepted by locals, who handed him over to the police. The second attacker managed to get away.

Police identified the assailant as Marcio Luiz Brandao, 26, who was previously known to police and had been on parole for the last year after serving a time in jail for drugs trafficking. This time, Brandao tried to bribe the police officers, who detained him, by offering them 5,000 reals ($ 1,571) for not arresting him, local media report.

Brandao was arrested, charged with robbery and now could face up to ten years in prison. However, he was first treated in a local hospital after suffering injuries at the hands of the mob of angry locals that intercepted him.

The minister does not plan to change his schedule in the wake of the incident and will continue to attend sporting events at the Rio Olympics, in which his countrymen are participating, the minister’s aide told reporters.

The incident involving Rodrigues was just the latest in a series of robberies and thefts that have plagued sports fans and even athletes at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Felipe Seixas, coordinator of security for special events within the Brazilian government's Secretariat for the Security of Large Events, was also targeted by a group of robbers on Friday after the Olympic Games opening ceremony.

Seixas, accompanied by two undercover police officers, was confronted by about five assailants armed with knives outside the Maracana stadium, where the opening ceremony was held. One attempted robber was killed by the officers accompanying Seixas at that time, Reuters reports.

The Russian Olympic Team’s fans’ house was also robbed during the Rio Games opening ceremony with the criminals stealing three laptops and a camera from the facility. Earlier, Chinese journalists reported the alleged theft of the expensive cameras and recording equipment from their hotel room.