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Rio Athletes, Fans Give Bin Laden's Bar Thumbs Up

  • VOA News

FILE - Inside a Rio de Janeiro bar on an evening during the Summer Olympic Games (J. Swicord/VOA)

FILE - Inside a Rio de Janeiro bar on an evening during the Summer Olympic Games (J. Swicord/VOA)

Olympic athletes and fans looking to blow off a little steam have been frequenting a Rio bar with a very strange name.

Bin Laden’s Bar is run Jose Felipe de Araujo, 60, who resembles the late founder of the al-Qaida terrorist group, mostly because he sports a huge, bushy beard.

“After September 11, everyone started calling me bin Laden for obvious reasons,” de Araujo told The New York Times. “The nickname stuck, so I decided to use it to my advantage.”

The bar, which stays open until 2 a.m., is the only one near the athletes village, and de Araujo said athletes from Argentina, Iceland, Russia, Spain and others had stopped by, according to the Mirror, a London newspaper.

While de Araujo doesn’t speak English, the language barrier hasn’t seemed to be a problem for the decade-old bar and its customers.

"When they want something, they point, I point, and it all goes right somehow," he told the Mirror.

In addition to cold beer, the bar serves food, including grilled sirloin and pizza, the Times reported, adding that the steak comes with rice, beans and pasta and costs only $4.40 a plate, which is much cheaper than anything else nearby.

“The Olympic Village gets boring and the food is somewhat, well, monotonous,” Carlos Vizcaino Sanchez, 48, a Cuban emigre who coaches track-and-field athletes in the Seychelles, told the Times. “I never thought I’d find bin Laden in Rio, but here he is.”

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