Flame Lands in Troubled Brazil for 94-Day Relay to Games

Reuters/The New York Times, 05/03/2016

President Dilma Rousseff lit the Olympic torch in Brazil’s capital on Tuesday and pledged that political turmoil engulfing her nation would not harm the first Games to be held in South America.

The Olympic flame was flown into Brasilia on Tuesday to start a three-month relay through more than 300 towns and cities that will end with the opening of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracaná stadium on Aug. 5.

A smiling Rousseff waved to crowds as she lit a green cauldron with the Olympic flame on the ramp of Brasilia’s modernistic Planalto presidential palace.

Read more…

Exclusive: Brazil Says Zika Virus Outbreak Worse Than Believed

Anthony Boadle, Lisandra Paraguassu, 02/02/2016

Brazil’s top health official said on Monday that the Zika virus outbreak is proving to be worse than believed because most cases show no symptoms, but improved testing should allow the country to get a better grip on the burgeoning public health crisis.

Health Minister Marcelo Castro told Reuters that Brazil will start mandatory reporting of cases by local governments next week when most states will have labs equipped to test for Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that has quickly spread through Latin America. The virus has no vaccine or cure at present.

On Monday, the World Health Organization declared the Zika outbreak to be a global emergency, a decision that should help fast-track international action and research priorities.

Read more…

Brazil Still Unsure of How Bad the Country’s Zika Virus Outbreak is

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 02/01/2016

Brazil, the country at the frontline of the Zika crisis, has admitted it is struggling to comprehend, let alone cope with, the epidemic.

A little more than six months before the country hosts the Olympics, the government has dispatched hundreds of thousands of troops and public officials on mosquito-eradication campaigns to minimise the risks.

But senior officials admit they are still unsure of the scale of the problem they face because the country’s estimate of 1.5m cases is based on guesswork.

Read more…

Rio Olympics Slims Down as Brazil’s Economic Crisis Bites

Andrew Downie – Reuters, 01/19/2016

The grandstands for watching rowing and beach volleyball at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics are to be reduced in size to cut spending as Brazil’s economic crisis hits home, Olympic officials said on Tuesday.

The number of volunteers has also been cut from around 70,000 to 50,000 and the total of cars slashed by 20 percent to 4,000 from an original estimate of 5,000, Rio 2016 spokesperson Mario Andrada told reporters.

The moves come after four months of negotiations between Brazilian organizers, the International Olympic Committee and federations from around the world over how best to trim spending and ensure that South America’s first Olympic Games do not go over budget.

Read more…

Zika Virus Scare Spreads as Brazil Gears up for Carnival, Olympics

Reuters, 01/18/2016

Olympic and tourism officials in Brazil downplayed risks for foreign visitors from the mosquito-borne Zika virus on Monday, even as the health ministry warned pregnant women to consult doctors before visiting the country amid a widening scare.

Alarm over the virus, linked to a rising number of mental birth defects among children of mothers infected by it, comes two weeks before nationwide Carnival celebrations, a highlight of Brazil’s tourism calendar.

It also comes 200 days before Rio de Janeiro hosts the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics, the first in South America.

Read more…

A bold and beautiful portrait of Brazil

Nicole Crowder – The Washington Post, 04/22/2015

Ahead of the upcoming 2016 Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Washington Post staff photographer Bonnie Jo Mount traveled to Piquiá de Baixo to document a community of residents in clay-brick and wooden houses suffering from the heavy pollution from nearby pig iron factories and the noisy Carajás railway that runs through the Amazon region transporting ore.

Away from the busy rail tracks and gathering dust, Mount documented a more personal portrait of the country via her Instagram, one that reflects a serene, even majestic Brazil. Vibrant tiles jut out from a red wall near contrasting green glass window shutters in Rio. A young man walks past a facade of wooden blue doors and iron balconies, oxidized over time by the elements in the historic district of São Luís. And while the southern coastal region of the country has suffered one of its most severe droughts in nearly 80 years, Mount’s vignettes are able to capture the soul and beauty of Brazilian landscapes, from its energetic beaches of Ipanema to aerials of the Amazon rainforest.

View images here…

Brazil police force squatters from intended Olympics luxury hotel

The Guardian/AP, 04/14/2015

An operation to remove squatters from a building planned as a hotel for the 2016 Olympic games erupted into chaos on Tuesday as Brazilian police stormed in and squatters set the structure alight.

The more than 100 squatters had agreed to leave of their own accord, but as they filed out of the imposing former apartment building, police in riot gear charged, sparking pandemonium. Squatters set two fires inside the building, and firefighters battled flames as police chased some of the squatters and their supporters through the streets.

“It didn’t have to end this way; they were already leaving,” said Joao Helvecio de Carvalho, an attorney with the state public defender’s office. “The police’s use of force was disproportional … They didn’t need to act in that way.”

Read more…