Mon | Jan 22, 2018

Gunshots near hotel cause anxiety

Published:Monday | August 1, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Team manager for Jamaica's track and field contingent at the Rio Olympic Games, Ludlow Wattts, admitted that he was concerned but said he remains confident of the team's security after hours of shooting at a nearby favela on Saturday caused anxiety among some athletes and support staff.

When the majority of the team returned to the Linx Hotel, where they are based during their pre-Olympics training camp, at close to 6 p.m. from their evening training session at a navy base some 15 minutes away, gunshots could be heard for hours from the rooms and even the lobby of the guarded mid-sized hotel, which also sits a stone's throw away from the international airport.

It's not clear who was responsible for the shooting, but police sirens could be heard in the area for much of the night as the shooting continued into the early morning.

"We heard the gunshots last night, but I don't think it was anything that would be of threat to us. We recognise that in this world and in these large cities, you will have these types of situations," Watts said.

"We are being very careful and we are taking all precautions to ensure that we stay safe and keep away from trouble. We have a lot of security personnel here driving around with us when we go to training and so on," he added.

Armed security personnel are stationed outside and inside the team's hotel, which itself has electrically-charged perimeter fencing and thick grade windows throughout.

Several athletes have mentioned the incident, but there was a general sense of calm in the camp.

Rio de Janeiro has been struggling to curb its urban crime problem ahead of the August 5 - 21 Games and has actually recently seen an upturn in homicides.

Close to 350 persons were murdered in Rio in May with shootings, kidnappings and robbery is also creating major headaches for visitors and officials alike.

- A. L.