Retired Brazilian football legend Rivaldo has urged anyone considering coming to the South American country for this year’s Olympic Games not to travel to the nation, claiming they are “putting their lives at risk” if they choose to do so.
In what represents a blow to Rio 2016 due to the 2002 FIFA World Cup winner’s popularity in Brazil, Rivaldo, who scored 35 goals in 74 games for his country, issued a stern warning to those contemplating making the journey due to high crime levels.
His outburst was prompted by the death of 17-year-old Ana Beatriz Pereira Frade, who was shot dead in an attack by an armed gang on Saturday (May 7).
The incident happened on the Yellow Line Road, which connects Rio’s airport with several of the Olympic venues due to be used for the Games.
According to local media reports, the girl was on her way to the airport and was struck by a single bullet fired by the gang after her father attempted to drive through a blockade they had set up on the road.
Rivaldo, also an Olympic bronze medallist, made the comments in an emotional post on social networking site Instagram, which has received over 3,000 likes since it was uploaded.
“I urge all of you who are planning on visiting Brazil or coming for the Olympic Games this summer to stay in your countries,” the post from the 44-year-old former FC Barcelona player said.
“In Rio bandits killed this girl aged 17.
“Things are getting worse all the time in Brazil.”
Crime in the Brazilian city, which is home to around 6.3 million people, has been a prominent concern in the build-up to the Olympic Games, the first to ever be held in South America.
Rio is notorious for seemingly more low-level offences, such as muggings and attacks on tourists and citizens alike.
Earlier in 2016, images surfaced of a number of daylight muggings carried out by a group of militant children, captured by a local businessman who used his camera to film the series of incidents from December to January.
Back in May of last year, 57-year-old local doctor Jaime Gold was attacked while cycling close to the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas lake upon which rowing and canoe sprint events will be held, later dying in hospital as a result of his injuries.
A 19-year-old French cyclist was also assaulted in the same district at a similar time of the year.
In 2014, British 470 class sailors Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark were mugged at knife point when walking back to their hotel close to the Bay during a training camp ahead of the Olympics, being robbed of all of their belongings, including training gear used during the day's session.
insidethegames has contacted Rio 2016 for comment.