Why are so many Brazilians trying to kill the Olympic flame?


A Brazilian man was arrested on Saturday for trying to grab the Olympic Torch in what appears to be the latest protest against the international sporting event.

According to local news reports, the Olympic flame was being paraded through the town of Guarulhos, in the state of Sao Paulo, when a man suddenly burst from the crowd and tried to make a dash at the torchbearer. He didn't get very close, however. News footage shows security tackling the man and swiftly handing him over to police, while a worried torchbearer looks on in dismay.

It's not the first time a Brazilian has tried to snuff the Olympic flame, though not every attempt has been political.


On June 27, a man in in his twenties tried to extinguish the torch by pouring a bucket of water on it as it passed through the small town of Maracaju. The water thrower was swiftly arrested and released after friends helped him pay a $350 bail. State police said the bucket bearer had attacked the torch in an attempt to impress friends, who had challenged him on Facebook.

But other attempts to extinguish the flame appear to reflect Brazilians' growing opposition to the  Olympic Games, which will be held in Rio amid a deepening economic recession and a political corruption scandal that led to the suspension of the country's president.

On June 29, two people tried to snuff out the torch as it made its way through the southern Parana State. One woman, part of a protest against Brazil's interim government, tried to extinguish the flame with a sign. Later that day, a man in the town of Cascabel was arrested, after he tried to put out the flame with a fire extinguisher.

Local media reports that Olympics protesters have gone so far as to create “extinguish the torch” campaigns in several cities where the flame has passed through. In Curitiba, the capital of Parana, one such Facebook campaign called on residents to put out the torch “whatever the cost.”


“This one's for the guy who used the fire extinguisher,” the Facebook event page said as way of encouraging others.

Memes have also circulated on Twitter and Facebook celebrating torch attacks, or simply making fun of these events, like this one which says that he who puts out the torch is a “national hero.”


And this one, which tells people to keep calm and “put out that torch.”


Not everyone hates the Olympic flame though. The passing torch has also been applauded by thousands of Brazilians as it makes its way through more than 300 cities in the South American country. One man even proposed to his torch-bearing girlfriend as she carried the Olympic flame through Santos, in the state of Sao Paolo.

Photo via metropoles.com

The torch is expected to arrive in Rio de Janeiro state next week. On Aug. 5 it will be carried into Rio's historic Maracana stadium for the Opening Ceremony.

Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.

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