RIO DE JANEIRO – A bomb scare hit the Rio Olympics Athletes Village Wednesday afternoon, just a day after a similar incident forced authorities to clear the Olympic Aquatic Center due to a package that was suspected to contain a bomb.
The Welcome Center of the Athletes Village was closed to delegates as authorities, including a bomb squad, arrived because of a reported mysterious bag.
A bomb robot, according to a witness, was used to clear the bag. No bomb was found, and soon after the anti-bomb personnel left the area, and the Welcome Center, where arriving delegates go in and out, was reopened.
“It was just an abandoned bag,” said a Rio Olympics volunteer, who could not describe the bag that was left unattended.
“I didn’t see it,” she said.
Tuesday evening, authorities rushed to the Olympic Aquatic Center because of the presence of a suspicious package, just 90 minutes before the Australian swim team was scheduled to train.
Authorities cleared the area and found out that the package was actually a tool box left behind by an electrician.
The twin bomb scare came very close to the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics on Aug. 5 at the Maracana Stadium, which is more than an hour away from the Athletes Village and the Olympic Aquatic Center.
Security in the different venues to be used during the Games as well as the Athletes Village are now tighter than it was more than a week ago when delegates from 206 participating countries started to arrive.
Brazilian National Guards roam the Athletes Village 24 hours a day, most of them carrying high-powered firearms.
Filipino chef-de-mission Jose Romasanta said the heavy presence of security even inside the Athletes Village only shows the serious efforts by the hosts to prevent any untoward incident.
Col. Jeff Tamayo, an official of the Philippine Olympic Committee and in charge of the security details for the Philippine delegation here, said the presence of armed police and military personnel within the Athletes Village and the venues only shows the high level of alert.
Romasanta said he was one of the guests who were prevented from entering the Athletes Village through the Welcome Center due to the police operation.
“Whether it was an actual bomb threat or a bomb scare or an exercise, authorities here are showing their capability to act fast to such threats,” he said.