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Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay - Day 49 Rio 2016 / Fernando Soutello
23 Jun 2016
RIO 2016 , Olympic Torch Relay , IOC News

Olympic Torch Relay reaches the rainforest

The Olympic flame went back to nature this week as it passed through Brazil’s Amazon rainforest and visited indigenous communities on its way to Rio.

On 20 June, the flame was welcomed with a traditional dance at the village of Dessana, where tribal leader Toramã was the first to carry the torch, together with his own ceremonial flame, which blessed visitors.

Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay - Day 49 Rio 2016 / Fernando Soutello

“Dear visitors,” he said, inside the oca, or ritual tent. “We are receiving this torch so gentle and so welcome that comes to our home.

“We Indians are so proud to receive this Olympic torch. Who imagined that we Indians would be Olympians as well?”

For 26 years, Raimunda Ferreira Viana, 54, has lived in the Catalão river village, which was officially recognised 15 years ago.

“We are privileged because every morning, we bathe in the dark waters of the Rio Negro river and in the evening, in the light waters of the Rio Solimões,” she said.

“This is a moment I’ve never seen before nor ever will again. It’s wonderful to be considered for a moment like this, to show the world a floating community where people live on the water.”

From the state of Amazonas, the flame travelled to Rio Branco, the capital city of the state of Acre, on 21 June, where it was welcomed with typical regional music and performances by indigenous people.

Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay - Day 50 Rio 2016 / Fernando Soutello

Carlos Robenir Kaxinawá, of the Kaxinawá people, passed the flame to Raimundo Mendes, the cousin of Brazil’s late preeminent environmentalist Chico Mendes.

“If it were not for the resistance led by Chico Mendes and Wilson Pinheiro, the state’s forests would certainly be practically decimated,” Raimundo said.

Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay - Day 51 Rio 2016 / Andre Luiz Mello

On its last day in Brazil’s northern region, the torch was carried through Porto Velho in the state of Rondônia.

The flame’s first stop was on board a boat named Felicidade (Happiness), which is home to one of the Torchbearers, Eider Pereira.

Tribal chief Valda, of the Wajuru people, said: “Fire is very important for our people. We also have own flame and this represents a lot for us.”

Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay - Day 51 Rio 2016 / André Mourão

Wheelchair basketball team Sociedade Vida Ativa also participated in the relay with a demonstration match in the city’s central park.

From the Amazon, the flame will travel to Brazil’s Midwest, reaching the state of Mato Grosso on Thursday, 23 June.

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.

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