World

Rio Olympics protesters take on presidential politics at Copacabana Beach

At Copacabana Beach, a large installation of the multi-coloured Olympic rings draws crowds of selfie-seeking locals and tourists ahead of the opening ceremonies at the 2016 Rio Olympics. But the attraction has caught the attention of another less celebratory crowd — thousands of protesters.

'I am here today because I am against the coup in Brazil,' says Dilma Rousseff supporter

At the famous Copacabana Beach, a large installation of the multi-coloured Olympic rings has been drawing crowds of selfie-seeking locals and tourists ahead of the opening ceremonies for the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

But the attraction has caught the attention of another less celebratory crowd — thousands of protesters.

"A large protest has kind of taken over this part of Copacabana Beach," reports CBC's Susan Ormiston during a Facebook Live from Rio on Friday.

"This is a political protest, they've been here for over an hour, and they're protesting the really chaotic politics that have happened in Brazil over the last few months," said Ormiston, referring to former president Dilma Rousseff's suspension and impeachment trial.

Two boys sit on the sidewalk as they attend a protest against Rio's 2016 Summer Olympics near the Maracana stadium before the opening ceremony on Friday. (Mauro Pimentel/Associated Press)

After being accused of breaking budget laws, Rousseff was replaced by interim President Michel Temer.

"This protest is basically asking Brazil to bring on more democracy," Ormiston said. "They're unhappy with the way presidential politics have worked."

She said the protests are not really about the Olympics, and more against Temer taking power from Rousseff, with demonstrators holding signs reading "Fora Temer," which means "Temer Out."

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"I am here today because I am against the coup in Brazil," said a protester named Sergio. "And I support the Dilma government."

He says he hopes Congress "does not approve the coup," and that Roussef will be reinstated.

The Maracana Stadium, the venue for the opening ceremony, also saw demonstrations Friday, with protesters rallying against human rights abuses in what they call the "Exclusion Games."

"This is a demonstration to denounce the innumerous human rights violations and to denounce the project associated to the Olympics whereby people are excluded," said university professor Orlando Santos Junior.

"The winners were those with large economic interests, sponsors, the press and the losers are Rio's population."

85,000 police officers on hand 

Ormiston said officers at Copacabana Beach have been trying to prevent protesters from disrupting the torch relay.

She said there are 85,000 police officers for security at the Olympics.

There are also 6,200 cameras on the streets in Rio that police are watching 24/7, and four balloons flying over the city equipped with aerial cameras that can oversee a 40-kilometre radius.

But for many locals, she says security is only one of many issues that come with hosting Olympics.

"They say the Olympics won't help. In fact, they'll do the reverse," she said. "They'll be left with the debt ... and they will be left paying for the excess of the Olympics in Rio."

Sergio said the Olympics are expensive, and that he can't afford to attend.

"I live near ... where the opening ceremony is tonight," he said. "I can't buy the tickets because it's very high."

Ormiston said locals aren't being given any discounts on purchasing tickets.

With files from Reuters

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