Olympic Flame Set to Arrive in Brazil For Torch Relay

The Olympic flame is set to arrive in Brazil, kicking off a three-month torch relay around the country that will end at the Maracana stadium when the games open on Aug. 5.

Carlos Nuzman, the head of the Rio organizing committee, will step off a plane from Geneva on Tuesday morning carrying the flame in a lantern.

President Dilma Rousseff is to receive the lantern at the Planalto presidential palace, igniting the torch to begin its journey around the country.

The first torchbearer will be Fabiana Claudino, who led Brazil to Olympic gold medals in women's volleyball in the 2008 and 2012 games, and the captain this time. She will be followed by Brazilian mathematician Artur Avila Cordeiro de Melo.

Each torchbearer will run about 200 meters (218 yards) in a relay that organizers say will involve 329 cities and 12,000 torchbearers.

Among the first 10 torchbearers will be Hanan Khaled Daqqah, a 12-year-old Syrian refugee.

The torch lighting could be one of the last official public acts for Rousseff. Next week the Brazilian senate is expected to vote to suspend her for six months as it considers her impeachment.

Vice President Michel Temer will take over as president and is expected to open the Olympics in three months.

Colonel Jose Vicente da Silva, a former head of public security told The Associated Press in a recent interview that he expects protesters to target the relay.

Brazil is buried in its deepest recession in decades, made worse by numerous graft and corruption investigations that have touched many of Brazil's most powerful politicians — from Rousseff to Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes.

"Wherever the torch goes, there will be a camera on it," Silva said. "There will be banners for or against President Rousseff. There is a chance of big protests during the torch relay."

Officials for the state of Rio de Janeiro have said the government body is essentially "broke," closing schools and hospitals, and delaying pension payments.

Meanwhile, Brazil is spending about $10-12 billion in a mix of public and private money to prepare for the Olympics.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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