Rio de Janeiro's world famous Carnival parade will not take place in February 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials announced Thursday.
"We came to the conclusion that the event had to be postponed," said Jorge Castanheira, the president of the group that organizes the annual parades, the Independent League of Rio de Janeiro Samba Schools (LIESA).
"We just can't do it in February. The samba schools won't have the time or financial and organizational resources to be ready," he said.
Read more: Spanish Holocaust-themed Carnival parade sparks outcry
A momentous event
Rio's Carnival, the world's biggest, attracts millions of tourists from around Brazil and the world to the beachside city each year. Rio's elite samba schools, which usually spend the entire year preparing their parades, had said in July that it would be difficult to organize next February's event if they weren't able to practice together by September.
Read more: Can Germany keep its Carnival events small?
Rio's City Hall has yet to announce a decision about the street parties that also take place across the city. The last year that Carnival was suspended was 1912, following the death of the foreign relations minister. The mayor of Rio postponed by two months all licenses for the samba schools' Carnival parties.
Brazil badly-hit by COVID-19
Brazil currently has the second-highest coronavirus death rate in the world. The country has registered 4.7 million infections and nearly 140,000 deaths.
Read more: Carnival party in Bavaria sparks racism debate in Germany
While the spread of the virus has slowed slightly since its July peak, the numbers are still significantly higher than the global average, with nearly 30,000 new cases and 735 deaths per day over the past two weeks.
Rio de Janeiro has been the state hit second-hardest in Brazil, after Sao Paulo, the country's industrial hub.
lc/rt (AP, AFP)