Olympic flame lands in Brazil for 94-day relay to Games
Updated: 2016-05-04 10:27
BRASILIA - Brazilian 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 from the Amazon to Brazil's southern border 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 Palace, the official workplace of the president.
"Upon lighting the Olympic torch, Brazil has now become the 'country of the Olympics.' The excitement surrounding this day will stay marked in our country's memory, heart and history," said Rousseff. "I welcome this flame, a symbol of humanity's great hope which is peace, union and friendship."
Rousseff said the sports facilities in Rio and the security measures to protect athletes, tourists and visiting heads of state were ready.
"Even though we are living through a truly critical period in our history and the history of our democracy, Brazil will know how to offer athletes and visitors the best welcome at the Olympics," said the president.
"Brazil is prepared to host the most successful edition of the Olympic Games. The comprehensive action plan in terms of security is ready based on the successful experience gained in the World Cup 2014," she added.
Brazil has scrambled to prepare for its second global sports event in two years in the midst of the worst recession since the 1930s and a massive corruption scandal that shook the political establishment and fueled demands for Rousseff's removal. Brazil is also fighting an outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus that threatens to keep some athletes and tourists away from Rio.
Rousseff said she hoped the Games would bring goodwill to her troubled country. "We will infect our country with the Olympic spirit, and involve the whole Brazilian population in this historic opportunity," she said.