It’s just one day and a few hours left to the beginning of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the Olympic torch has since arrived in Rio de Janeiro, with the torch relay in full swing.
On Wednesday, after Olympic Brazilian sailors had delivered the torch earlier to the host city’s mayor following the crossing of the bay near the end of a 20,000-km journey through Latin America’s biggest country, the Olympic torch passed through a defined route as the Olympic torch relay began in earnest, but angry protesters halted its progress at a point.
As the Olympic torch passed through a poor suburb of Rio de Janeiro, the police used rubber bullets and pepper spray against protesters an action which has caused sizable criticism to be directed towards them.
Rio’s first Olympic Games will open under tight security, with current security force figures tagged at 85,000 police, soldiers and security personnel which is more than double the amount of security deployed in London in 2012.
The security forces will have their hands full with attempts to deter protests, stop street crime and monitor any threat of attacks by extremists.
The Olympic torch had been passing through Duque de Caixas, on Rio’s north side when anti-government protesters allegedly threw rocks and blocked the torch’s path.
The police had employed the option mentioned above (rubber bullets and pepper spray) and a video of their attempts to disperse the protesters has spurred social media criticism and brought to the fore complaints about the games ignoring the poor.
Local media reported that three people were injured by rubber bullets, including a 10-year-old girl
A representative for the local organizing committee called the incident isolated and said the protesters had simply held up the torch but their route was not changed.
To remove any possibility of a repeat of Wednesday’s hiccup, Thursday was declared a public holiday at the last minute and security is expected to be even tighter to ensure the torch relay goes more smoothly.