New Zealand athlete kidnapped in Rio ahead of the Olympics

Jiu-Jitsu athlete Jason Lee was taken to ATMs and forced to withdraw cash

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Picture by: Felipe Dana / AP/Press Association Images

Although Jason Lee will not be representing New Zealand at the Olympics, his story has already grabbed headlines despite the fact that the Games haven't started yet. 

Lee, who is a Jiu-Jitsu athlete (which is not an event in the Olympics), has been based in Brazil for the last ten months. 

With the start of the sporting extravaganza just two weeks away, his story may well be another tale to add to the difficulties which Rio is experiencing in the buildup to the Games, from construction delays and financial issues to the Russian doping scandal.

Lee was driving on a highway this past weekend when he was pulled over by two police, according to what he told Stuff. Although it at first seemed to be a routine stop to check his vehicle for weapons or drugs, Lee said that one of the officers told him that "'you can't drive in Brazil as a foreigner without a passport,' which I now know isn't the case at all. The rental car company hadn't mentioned that to me."

He was then told that he would need to pay a fine of about R$2000 (just over €550), which Lee stated he didn't have on him. As a result, they told him he would need to go to an ATM with them to hand over the cash, forcing him to drive down the wrong side of the highway and then into an unmarked car which had been parked near an underpass.

They then drove to a number of different ATMs to withdraw the money, where Lee claims the officers stayed in the car to avoid being seen on security cameras. 

"These guys have pulled me over, they have weapons. I'm not in any position to negotiate," said Lee.

After the ordeal, Lee took to Twitter to announce that he had been kidnapped ahead of the start of the Olympic Games, when athletes and supporters from around the world will be flocking to Brazil. 

Journalist Laura McQuillan, who is Lee's partner, also took to Twitter to state that the Policia Militar had been the ones who pulled him over, and that his only statement on the matter was through Stuff, the outlet she works for.

Writing on Facebook, Lee said "I'm not sure what's more depressing, the fact this stuff is happening to foreigners so close to the Olympic Games or the fact that Brazilians have to live in a society that enables this absolute bulls**t on a daily basis. This place is well and truly f***ked in every sense of the word imaginable."