By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The current political turmoil faced by Brazil has spilled into the Olympics, with reported cases of spectators being physically removed from stadiums for protesting against the country’s interim government. Monday night, however, a Brazilian federal court judge that any suppression of political manifestations by security forces is unconstitutional and will be fined.
The decision determined that the Union, the state of Rio de Janeiro and Rio 2016 Committee ‘refrain from repressing peaceful demonstrations of a political nature in official competition locations during the 2016 Olympic Games’.
According to Brazil’s Justice Minister, Alexandre de Moraes, although there is a long-standing administrative guideline to prohibit political protests in the stadiums, the ‘freedom of expression is constitutionally guaranteed and will be ensured’.
The Brazilian official said people have a right to express their discontentment with current political figures and entities, ‘as long as they do not disturb the Games’.
On Saturday, August 6th, the first day of Olympic competition a spectator was removed from a stadium for holding up a “Fora Temer” (Temer Out) sign. That same day, in Belo Horizonte, during a Olympic soccer match ten persons were removed from the stadium for wearing t-shirts with similar sayings. According to organizers of the Rio Olympics, the Games have an on-going rule of not allowing any protests during the competitions.
“The Olympic Games are the temple of sport, not politics, not religion. Freedom is respected, but the rules must also be respected in the sense that the sport is neutral in terms of politics and religion. People who are making a political statement, sometimes, are taking advantage of the platform. So the sport has the right to say that this platform is not to be used,” Mario Andrada, spokesman for the Rio 2016 Olympic Committee, told reporters on Sunday night.
With the decision demonstrators can hold up signs or wear protest t-shirts as long as they are not disturbing athletes and the competitions. Protesters who are found to be too raucous will be asked to put away their banners and will only be escorted out if they refuse.