Ryan Lochte: an Olympic tale of gold medals and white privilege
Friday 19 August 2016 12.38 EDT
So, in Ryan Lochte the International Olympic Committee finally has its poster boy. Nothing says “IOC, bitch!” like landing in a host city, extracting personal glory from it, partying it up and then leaving the place more broken and out of pocket than you found it. It’s such an IOC move, dude. You have your fun, you get wrecked, you piss on a gas station, you break its bathroom door, you claim to have been robbed, you blame a bunch of stuff on the crappy Brazilians.
That Lochte flew out of Brazil days before his story about being jumped at a Rio petrol station by assailants disguised as police officers unravelled – and thus can’t really be touched, even by irate Brazilian authorities, for the mess he left behind – is somehow even more perfect. Oh dear, you have a broken bathroom door? You have a bunch of white elephant stadiums no one wanted? I’m definitely giving a major F about this back in the first world!
So far, so Lausanne. The politics of the tall tale Lochte and his swim team bros spun the media about being robbed in Brazil, to disguise their drunken criminal damage, is almost too obvious to state. An economically struggling city, whose people made it vocally clear the Olympics were unwelcome, has spent much of its hosting period being dug at for failing to provide the five-star international tourist experience and immaculate security that today’s modern Olympic tourist demands.
In this sensitive climate, Lochte & Co claiming to have been robbed by gun-toting pretend police officers underscores the idea the host city is a semi-lawless backwater where no one is safe. Even the apology he posted today is so extravagantly preposterous it can only have been written as a dare. “It is traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country,” quoth Lochte of his trauma, “with a language barrier, and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave.” Which is one way of describing the security guard telling them to pay for their vandalism.