Rio de Janeiro riot police fire tear gas at protesters as Olympic torch arrives

By Andrew V. Pestano

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Riot police fired tear gas at protesters gathered along the pathway for the Olympic torch relay as it arrived in Rio de Janeiro.

Hundreds of people were on the scene the protest the high cost of hosting the Olympic Games, which officially kick off Friday.


The Olympic torch arrived in Rio de Janeiro by boat after a three-month relay tour of Brazil. The torch was carried by Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes for a few laps around the city center.

Armed soldiers stand guard on a street corner near the Athletes Village in Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI

Riot police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse a crowd of protesters, causing people, including families with children who came out to watch the Olympic torch, to run away. Police said some protesters refused to leave one lane of road open for the Olympic torch to pass through as was previously agreed, adding that they took action to contain chaos and clear the road. Part of the relay was abandoned.


The official cost estimate of hosting the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is $12 billion but some experts estimate the cost could rise to $20 billion. More than a million event tickets have not been sold.

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Security officials have also been criticized over their preparations for the games. Amnesty International reports that police killings in Rio de Janeiro have increased by 103 percent. The city will also deploy nearly 14,000 police officers to patrol the streets.

This year's Olympics will be the first time a South American country has hosted the Games. The Games take place from Friday, when the opening ceremonies begin, to Aug. 21, though some preliminary competitions began Wednesday.

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