Brazilians are surprisingly meh about the Olympic torch's arrival

The World
Brazil's Jose Batista holds the Olympic torch as he rides his horse during the torch relay in Brasilia on May 3.

Brazil's Jose Batista holds the Olympic torch as he rides his horse during the torch relay in Brasilia on May 3.

Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

The Olympic flame arrived in Brazil this week aboard a plane from Greece.

But with less than 100 days to go until the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilians are hardly feeling ignited by the Olympic spirit.

It's not hard to see why. They're facing myriad crises, from the likely impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, to the worst recession in decades, to the mysterious Zika virus that officials claim is causing serious birth defects in Brazil and beyond.

Last week, Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes tried to assure reporters that the city’s Olympic venues will be completed on time. But workers are still scrambling to finish vital infrastructure projects like a new metro line that will link the Olympic Park in the western suburb of Barra da Tijuca with the beach communities of Copacabana and Ipanema. And another troubling sign: A section of one Olympic legacy project — a newly built seaside bike path — collapsed last month, killing at least two people.

The torch is being carried on a 93-day journey through dozens of Brazilian towns and cities, until it reaches Rio's Maracana Stadium on Aug. 5. As of Wednesday, there had been no major disruptions to the torch’s progress.

But some protesters see the torch's arrival as an opportunity to vent their frustrations. Protesters in Brasilia carried a banner reading “Olimpeachment” — a Portuguese-English word mashup referring to "Olimpíada" and the impeachment effort against Rousseff. The term soon became a hashtag on Twitter in Brazil.

As of April, media reports said only half of the Olympics tickets had been sold — which is much slower than in previous gamesOfficial warnings over traveling during the Olympics because of the Zika virus can't be helping those ticket sales.

That said, tourists continue pouring into Rio. Some are lured by cheaper travel deals with Brazil’s weakened currency, the real, which has made the country a bargain for visitors especially from the United States and Europe.

The next few weeks will reveal whether travelers decide to put aside fears about the country's political, economic, security and health situations and book tickets to the “marvelous city” of Rio for the Summer Olympics.

Will you help our nonprofit newsroom today?

Every week, more than 2 million listeners tune into our broadcast and follow our digital coverage like this story, which is available to read for free thanks to charitable contributions from listeners like you. But less than 1% of our audience supports our program directly. From now through the end of the year, every gift will be matched dollar for dollar by a generous donor, which means your gift will help us unlock a $67,000 challenge match.

Will you join our growing list of loyal supporters and double your impact today?