Rio de Janeiro: The Olympic flame landed by boat in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday to a welcome committee of samba dancers, cheering crowds and small protests ahead of the opening ceremony.
After a torch relay passing through more than 300 towns and cities, the flame was taken by Brazilian Olympic sailing heroes Lars and Torben Grael on a yacht crossing from Niteroi to a naval academy.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes stood on the dock to receive the flame, which burned in a brass lamp and was then used to light the torch.
The mayor, widely seen as hoping to use the Olympics as a springboard for his Presidential ambitions, then changed into sports clothes to start the relay through the host city. Costumed dancers and musicians from some of Rio's most famous samba schools turned the occasion into a street party.
"Long live the Olympics and welcome to the Olympic flame in the most beautiful and incredible of all cities, the love of my life, Rio de Janeiro," Paes said.
Lars Grael said his role in bringing the flame prompted "huge emotions."
The torch was then passed on, from hand to hand, in a route snaking through the historic city center. It will criss-cross the city before being taken into the Maracana stadium late Friday to light the cauldron in the opening ceremony.
Brazilians, angry at the cost of the Olympics, failing social services, economic decline and corruption have mounted numerous protests along the torch relay route.
There are also tensions over a political crisis in which suspended president Dilma Rousseff faces being ejected from office within weeks, to be replaced by her enemy Michel Temer.
The torch was briefly extinguished during violent clashes between demonstrators and police last week in Angra dos Reis, a coastal resort south of Rio.
On Wednesday, AFP reporters saw two incidents in which police hustled away protesters. One man held up a sign crudely insulting the torch and another man, who was among the torch relay runners, yanked down his shorts to reveal the words "Out with Temer" written on his backside.
First Published On : Aug 3, 2016 23:25 IST