China has warned its citizens visiting Brazil for the Olympics of possible robbery and theft after a Chinese athlete complained that his luggage had been stolen at a hotel in Rio de Janeiro and similar complaints from officials, members of the media and others.
“Avoid going to slum or remote areas. Do not wear jewelry and expensive watches, or use cell phones while walking on the street,” said a statement issued by the Chinese Embassy in Brazil and the foreign ministry.
Security in Rio de Janeiro has been a grave concern ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games that will kick off in the city on August 5, state-run Global Times said.
Several Chinese athletes, delegation members, media workers and tourists have fallen victim to Rio’s crime woes, the statement said.
Track and field star Shi Dongpeng told the press that a piece of baggage placed in front of the check-in desk was stolen one minute after he was spat on by a local and went to the toilet to clean himself.
Surveillance footage showed that the spitter and his accomplice stole his luggage and got into a waiting car, Shi was quoted by the news site inews.qq.com as saying.
“Recent news about the Rio Olympic Games regarding risks like the Zika virus and high levels of crime in the city has made some Chinese tourists hesitate,” Xu Xiaolei, manager of marketing at China CYTS Tours Holding Co, told the paper.
Personal security is another concern for most Chinese tourists. A tourist surnamed Cui who stayed in Brazil for two months in 2015 told the paper that she feared taking her purse or cell phone out on the street.
“The city was safe and stable when Rio de Janeiro beat Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid to win the bid to host the Olympic Games in 2009,” He Wenyi, executive director of the China Institute for Sports Value under Peking University, said, explaining that the local economy had previously thrived despite economic recession worldwide.
Today, the public security has been worsened by Brazil’s severe financial downturn and political unrest, he added.