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Olympic torch makes last stops in Rio ahead of opening ceremony

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - The Olympic torch was making its last stops on Friday in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the Games‘ official launch in the evening, drawing welcoming onlookers but also protesters.

The flame reached the world-renowned Christ the Redeemer statue under bright blue skies, where it was held up by former volleyball Olympic athlete Isabel with tears in her eyes. The archbishop of Rio, Orani Tempesta, and mayor Eduardo Paes also attended the ceremony.

The torch later passed through the beach district of the city, which has declared Friday a public holiday to avoid traffic problems. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also carried the torch in the neighbourhood of Ipanema.

In the neighbourhood of Copacabana, meanwhile, a few hundred people protested loudly against interim President Michel Temer, whom they accuse of having toppled suspended president Dilma Rousseff. They argued that her impeachment proceeding is politically motivated.

"That undercuts our democracy, Dilma was legitimately elected," protester Patricia Satornino said.

Rousseff is accused of tampering with figures to disguise the size of Brazil‘s budget deficit during her 2014 re-election campaign. She has denied any wrongdoing.

Temer will declare the Rio Olympics officially open on Friday evening during ceremonies in the emblematic Maracana Stadium.

Who will be the last of the 12,494 torchbearers and the person to light the Olympic flame during the ceremony has as always remained secret.

The first Olympics in South America will last until August 21, with 306 gold medals to be handed out.

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