Police use teargas on protesters as Olympic flame arrives in Rio | News | DW | 04.08.2016
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Police use teargas on protesters as Olympic flame arrives in Rio

Police have used stun grenades and teargas to clear a path through protesters as the Olympic flame arrived in Rio de Janeiro. Meanwhile, soldiers stood guard as part of Brazil's biggest-ever security operation.

The Mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes, with the Olympic flame

Mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes, started the flame on a journey through the city that was not without incident

Police said anti-government protesters in Duque de Caixas, on the north side of the city, threw stones and blocked the path of the torch after its official reception by the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes.

Police were reported to have dispersed the crowd with teargas, stun grenades and rubber bullets to clear the way.

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 added that, although the protesters had held up the torch, its route was not changed. A day earlier, in the neighboring cities of Sao Goncalo and Niteroi, the path of the flame had to be changed due to protests.

The torch - at the end of a 20,000-kilometer (12,400-mile) journey - had crossed Guanabara Bay to arrive in Rio itself. Olympic Brazilian sailors ran ashore from a yacht to hand it over to the mayor who took the flame on its first laps through the streets of downtown Rio, before the hold-up.

While the atmosphere in much of the city was largely celebratory, there were signs of dissent even as the flame was paraded. Many see the games as an expensive luxury, amid a national recession. Others are upset at the removal from office of former President Dilma Rousseff, to be replaced by her political enemy Michel Temer.

One of those who ran with the flame was muscian Tarcisio Cissao, who wore the regulation yellow and white relay outfit. However, Cissao had an ulterior motive and pulled down his Olympic shorts to reveal the words "Temer Out."

City under guard

Throughout Rio, armed soldiers stood patrol on highways and on many corners. Some 85,000 police, soldiers and security personnel are to be deployed in Rio. That figure is more than double the amount in London in 2012. The aim is to both deter both violent street crime and reduce the threat of attacks by extremists.

Security forces have been carrying out anti-terrorism drills as early as November - the threat of terrorism has long been a priority in Rio as it prepared to host the 2016 Olympics. Brazilian police have continued to train with foreign forces that have more experience in dealing with such dangers as several other terror attacks took place around the world.

On the eve of the first Games in South America, the security secretary for Rio de Janeiro state, Jose Mariano Beltrame, said the city was "very far from an event of this nature."

jm/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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