By Anna Kaiser, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Recent last-minute modifications in the World Youth Day (WYD) schedule, including a location change of the closing vigil from Campus Fidei (Field of Faith) in Guaratiba, Zona Oeste (West Zone), to Copacabana Beach, will cause irregular road closures and heavy traffic throughout Zona Sul (South Zone).
Starting at 7AM this morning, the pilgrims will make a final march from Central station in downtown Rio to Avenida Atlântica in Copacabana. This will replace the pilgrimage originally planned to end in Guaratiba’s Field of Faith.
Streets in Copacabana will be closed at 24 points starting at noon until 7PM on Sunday and the metro will operate all day for the weekend.
Residents of the famous beachside neighborhood have seen many inconveniences over the last week with the influx of millions of people and closures of roads and metro stations. The Secretary of Municipal Transport warned the residents of Copacabana that they will not be able to drive their cars until roads reopen on Sunday evening.
At a press conference to announce the alterations to World Youth Day schedule following the last vigil’s location change due to flooding in the Field of Faith location built for the international event, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes admitted the city made errors in its planning of WYD and asked for patience.
“We know the embarrassment that will be generated. We will work the entire time trying to be flexible. If we feel the amount of people is not big enough to justify the blockage of cars, we can postpone a little. But the people should use these schedules,” Paes said.
This comes just a few days after technical failures on Rio’s metro system left thousands of traveling pilgrims stranded in and around metro stations all over the city before a large World Youth Day in Copacabana.
“The mayor is here to assume all responsibility on behalf of the public power,” Paes told journalists on Friday, referring to the recent organizational challenges. “The Pope’s visit is an honor. We’re not going to transform this into a problem. What we are seeing on the streets is joy,” he affirmed.
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