Olympic Torch Relay arrives in the south of Brazil

Picture by Rio2016/Fernando Soutello

The Olympic flame has neared Rio de Janeiro as it passes through neighbouring states and continues its journey south.

On its final day in the Midwest, the relay was greeted in Nova Andradina, Mato Grosso do Sul on Monday with a shower of green and yellow balloons, each carrying the seed of a native tree.

Children from the Nova-andradinense Culture Foundation performed a dance with hula-hoops and crowds of 20,000 gathered to see the relay pass through the city.

From there, the flame travelled to Presidente Prudente, the first stop in the state of São Paulo, which borders Rio.

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Picture by Rio2016/André Mourão

Rodrigo Faro, 42, an actor and presenter who played handball and did gymnastics, said he had already bought tickets to see the Games.

“This will be an historic edition of the Olympic Games,” he said.

“My medal bets are on the men’s and women’s volleyball team and I also think we have a great chance in judo.”

On 28 June, the flame arrived in Paraguaçu Paulista to dance and musical performances in the city’s Praça da Matriz square.

Mário Montovani, 61, a director of the SOS Mata Atlântica NGO, said: “I’m very pleased with the sustainability policy of Rio 2016. The event’s historical factor and its symbolism point to this concern, which is part of its social values.

“Right now, I'm enjoying the Olympic Games with its symbol that unites people. The flame that makes the heart and mind burns. That we can be all together in this story.”

Soap writer Walcyr Carrasco, 64, was also among the Torchbearers and said: “If my carrying the torch was a scene from a soap, it would be a dramatic scene with some comic relief!

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Picture by Rio2016/André Mourão

“I’m not sporty and I’m terrified of letting the torch fall. But this is a unique moment. I never thought I would carry the torch. I’m very happy.”

From São Paulo, the flame visited four towns in the state of Paraná on 29 June and was welcomed by orchestras, martial arts performances and dancers dressed as Greek gods.

One of the highlights was Torchbearer Ricardinho, one of Brazil’s most successful volleyball players, who won six world titles, two gold medals in the World Championships, gold in Athens 2004 and silver in London 2012.

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Picture by Rio2016/André Mourão

“It was wonderful to carry the torch,” he said. “Everything came back to me, like the emotion of entering the Olympic Village for the first time. I think Brazil will do really well at these Olympic Games.”

In the city of Maringá, the flame was put through a mini-triathlon, carried by swimmer Farida Okuhara, cyclist Gabriela Gomes and runner Guilherme Santana.

The day ended in Cascavel with a dance performance of Verdades do Olimpo, about Greek gods, and demonstrations of martial art capoeira, street dance and skate.

The Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay has three Presenting Partners: Worldwide TOP Partner Coca-Cola, which continues its longstanding support for Olympic torch relays, and local Partners Bradesco and Nissan. For further information, please visit the Rio 2016 website.