Rio de Janeiro, Aug 3 (IANS) The Olympic torch arrived in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday for the final leg of its 20,000km journey across Brazil. Ferried by boat from the neighbouring city of Niteroi, the flame was received by Mayor Eduardo Paes at a historic naval base next to Rio’s downtown district.
“This is a very special moment in the history of our city and our country,” Paes said during the ceremony.
“It’s an enormous honor to receive this torch in the name of Cariocas (Rio inhabitants). It’s an honour to represent the fantastic people of Rio. And to receive it in this place is even more special. This is where the history of this fantastic country was formed. Brazil’s identity was created here.”
He called on Brazilians to put their concerns aside as the country grapples with its worst economic recession in decades and a political crisis that has led to impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff, reports Xinhua.
“Brazil has been through turbulent times in the last few years. I think everybody recognises that. But this will perhaps be a moment in which all of us can reflect on what the Olympics bring to our city and our country,” Paes said.
“Despite all of the difficulties and challenges, I take this opportunity to call on all Brazilians and Cariocas to see the importance of this moment and understand what it means (for Brazil). It’s a project for a country that is overcoming its hardships.”
The torch will be carried by students, waste collectors, theatre directors and waiters during its three-day tour of Rio, stopping at landmarks such as Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer statue.
The flame’s 95-day journey will culminate with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron at the Maracana stadium on August 5.
Paes added: “The Olympics represent a world that we are all seeking. A peaceful world in which different nationalities, religions, beliefs and orientations can be respected. And above all they represent the capacity to overcome difficulties and challenges. They show that when you want something enough, you can achieve it.
“In the next 20 days we are going to warmly welcome our visitors. We will show our capacity to celebrate, vibrate and overcame challenges. I welcome the Olympic torch to the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro, the love of my life.”