Olympic torch in Brazil was supposed to be a grand stage for the country, but it turned out to be a battle. Embattled Brazil President Dilma Rousseff made an appearance at an important juncture in the nation’s history for the arrival of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.
Rousseff emerged from the presidential palace and took her place beside a small cauldron, declaring, “Brazil is ready to host the most successful Olympics in history.” Just across the street, protesters waited to greet her, iNews Today reports.
Yet there were as many cheers as jeers for a leader who may not last in office long enough to preside over the Opening Ceremonies in August. For all the nationwide talk about getting rid of her - “Tchau Querida!” or “Bye Dear!” has become a rallying cry - there is also a group that feels the push to oust her is not based in democracy, and is poisonous for the populace. Many of those people made their voices heard Monday.
“The media does not cover our side,” exclaimed one sign-carrying Dilma supporter, who did not give her name. She and others here feel the current climate is part of a “coup,” authored by other corrupt politicians and egged on by an antiestablishment press.
Rousseff waved at her backers, smiling again as some shouted for her, “Dilma!”
The Olympic Torch was lit and carried across a cement walkway toward Eixo Monumental, one of the main arteries toward the hotel district, the United Press International reported. For a brief moment, there was awe and appreciation for a lasting tradition of sport. A few of the onlookers welled up in tears. And then it go very noisy.
As the Olympic torch crossed a bridge, protesters and police followed. A helicopter hovered overhead and mounted police attended closely. Supporters of Dilma strode in the same mob as the critics, and it almost seemed like one united group when in fact it was hardly that. One sign called for an end to the impeachment, while steps away an inflatable convict in jail attire carried a torch. All this went on as office workers stepped out of their buildings to gawk. Sponsor vehicles trailed slowly behind the procession, with one carrying extra torches for the runners. It almost seemed as if the relay was merely an opportunity for the protests to flourish.
The scene split into two: expression of anger in some pockets, and expressions of joy in others. Some mobbed the torch as it continued, cheering and taking selfies. Others took selfies with the inflatable convict. As the procession passed, one businessman provided his own expression of apathy, getting his shoes shined on the side of the road and looking at his phone. It was that kind of morning.
The BBC said that the Olympic torch relay is supposed to be symbolic: a seamless link of the birthplace of democracy in Greece to the next nation to host the Olympics after Brazil. What happened here on Tuesday was both a validation and a repudiation of that. Democracy is never seamless, and sport is never truly the center of attention.