Rio Olympics torch snuffed out by protesters in Brazil

Alex Baker
The Rio 2016 Olympic torch is seen during its launching ceremony on July 3, 2015 in Brasilia, Brazil. (Getty)
The Rio 2016 Olympic torch is seen during its launching ceremony on July 3, 2015 in Brasilia, Brazil. (Getty)

The Rio Olympics are just over a week away and the protests we’ve seen on the ground in Brazil show no signs of abating any time soon, with angry protesters on Wednesday night having gone as far as to halt the Olympic torch procession, snatch the torch away and extinguish it.

A video posted online from the confrontation, which took place in Angra dos Reis near Rio de Janeiro, shows a crowd of protesters grabbing the torch away from the Olympic procession before snuffing it out. The scene then rapidly descends into chaos with Brazilian military police moving in to disperse the crowd with tear gas and rubber bullets. The crowd quickly joined in on the melee, pelting the police with rocks, bricks and other projectiles.

Loud bangs and explosions can also be witnessed on the video as the crowd scatters and the processional retreats to the relative safety of a support vehicle.

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According to a local news story, the protest consisted mainly of government employees angered over delays in salary payments that have led to many people going more than two months without pay.

The confrontation is just the latest in a series of protests and other incidents as the cash-strapped state of Rio prepares to host the first South American Olympics amid concerns over security, the Zika virus and the readiness of venues and athlete accommodations.

As the world turns its attention to the Rio Games, many Brazilians feel they have been neglected at the expense of hosting the Olympics. Subsequently, many have directed their anger over the country’s faltering economy and social systems toward the Olympic torch.

Last week in Sao Paulo a protester attempted to steal the torch. Other incidents have seen protesters unsuccessfully try and extinguish it using fire extinguishers and buckets of water.

There have also been unrelated incidents of torch bearers simply tripping and falling on their own.

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Many Brazilians remain wary over the promise that the Games will benefit their country in any significant way, especially after having been given similar promises prior to the World Cup two years ago, and having seen those benefits fail to materialize.

A recent poll revealed that a majority of Brazilians feel the Olympics will bring more harm than good.