De Graff native J.J. Greene and 20 friends made the trip to Rio for the 2016 Olympics. Greene, who made multiple trips the country since college, said safety fears were overblown.   Contributing photo/J.J. Greene

Miami Valley native says Olympic fears overblown

One reason Team USA swimmer Ryan Lochte’s tale about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio blew up was how believable it seemed

The threat of crime and violence was a major theme of pre-Olympics coverage, so news of Lochte’s incident initially arrived with a certain sense of inevitability.

(Worth noting: Even as Lochte’s tale was unwound by police, a reported robbery of athletes from Great Britain emerged.)

But a Miami Valley native attending the Games in Rio told the Dayton Daily News he and his group of more than 20 fans in Rio felt safe throughout their stay.

“Overall, it has been better than expected,” said J.J. Greene, a De Graff native who now lives in Columbus.

Greene is no stranger to Brazil, having gone there for a study-abroad program through Ohio State and returned multiple times to see his host family, but he admitted the torrent of negative press gave him pause.

“I knew it is a relatively safe place,” he said. “There are places to avoid like any major city. Initially I wasn’t surprised of the negative publicity by the media, because Brazil has always had a reputation for not being very safe, but as it got more negative, I almost started doubting myself and thinking maybe the country had changed.

“As it turns out, none of us ever felt remotely unsafe, as had been my past experience in Brazil. There were police and military everywhere.”

Greene and his friends have attended volleyball (indoor and beach), gymnastics, track and field, basketball, handball and swimming without feeling any threats of violence or crime.

Nor have they been concerned about the Zika virus.

“It’s winter time here, all the mosquitos die,” he said. “None of us have seen a mosquito and everyone we talked to hasn’t seen one either. We haven’t worn bug spray since the first day.”