RIO DE JANEIRO — It seems panic has set in just days before the start of Rio Olympics on Saturday with reports Brazilian police sent a robot into Rio’s Maracana Stadium to trigger an explosion.
Australian host broadcaster Seven Network revealed a loud explosion had been heard inside the famous football stadium.
Dress rehearsals for the opening ceremony were taking place at the time.
However, not everyone is convinced by the reports.
Bomb disposal experts took no chances with suspicious toolbox. Inspector Brito, from Rio’s Bomb Squad, said the package did not contain any explosives when it was detonated by the robot about 8.30am.
Rio-based reporter for Wall Street Journal, Paul Kiernan, tweeted: “Explosion today at Rio’s Maracana stadium was a training exercise, fire department says.”
Rafael Leal, a reporter with CBN, dismissed reports tweeting: “Pure joke! Stop creating false news! I am journalist here in Brazil and there was nothing in the Maracana today.”
Much of the confusion stemmed from Seven Network’s initial report, which sent Twitter into overdrive.
It follows the theft of a laptop and three shirts in the Australian camp during a fire evacuation at the athletes’ village.
Australian team chief Kitty Chiller said on Sunday team shirts and a laptop computer belonging to a cycling official have been stolen from the Australian building in the athletes’ village.
She said three unidentified people were seen walking away with team shirts during an evacuation after a basement fire on Friday, while the laptop was taken from a room on the fifth floor.
“That is concerning,” she told a news conference, adding that the security presence had since been increased with four private guards at the entrance doors and more noticeable identity checks.
“When you have got 15,000 beds, there are a lot of people walking around the village. I’m not accusing anybody but there are a lot of non-accredited workers, cleaners, housekeepers, maintenance workers still walking around.
“Unfortunately, in an area of that size with the number of buildings and rooms that there are, theft is going to be inevitable.”
Asked about safety implications, at a time of heightened concern about potential terror attacks, Chiller said nobody felt unsafe but all team members had been reminded to keep doors locked and valuables secure.
Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada said security had been tightened.
“When the task force was still working to finish the buildings there were more people circulating in the village. No-one can enter the village now without the proper screening, background checks and accreditation,” he said.
The theft is the latest in a string of incidents affecting the Australians, their woes perhaps highlighted by the team holding daily briefings where others have not.
Chiller complained last weekend about exposed wiring and blocked toilets, saying the accommodation was “not safe or ready” for athletes who were put up in hotels while contractors rectified matters.
The basement fire was blamed on a cigarette discarded into debris left after the repairs.
The Australians subsequently discovered that the alarm system had been deactivated without them knowing while workmen were fixing the neighbouring building.
Apart from the missing laptop, IT equipment had also been “rifled through”.
Chiller could not say whether the laptop contained sensitive data, and neither could she state how many shirts were missing.
“They were our ‘Zika’ shirts — long-sleeved yellow — and we had them all lined up in piles on the reception desk, in an outdoor common space,” she said.
Visitors to Brazil are advised to wear long-sleeved shirts as a precaution against the mosquito-borne Zika virus linked to birth defects in newborn babies and possible neurological problems in adults. — Various