By Charlotte Markham, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Olympic torch is wrapping the third week of its journey around Brazil, which began on May 3rd and will run up until the Rio 2016 Games opening ceremony on August 5th. During the 95-day relay the torch will be passed among close to 12,000 individuals, and was carried into the state of Bahia on Thursday, May 19th set to reach the capital, Salvador, by May 23rd.
Earlier this week the torch finished its leg in the state of Minas Gerais, then on Thursday crossed over the state boarder to the city of Teixeira de Freitas, in the southern region of Bahia.
On Thursday members of the Pataxó tribe, an indigenous people from northeastern Brazil, carried the torch in the towns of Itamaraju, Santa Cruz Cabrália and Porto Seguro. Organizers aim to reinforce how the torch relay is celebrating Brazil’s diversity and seeking to include the nation’s many different ethnicities in the Games.
Yesterday (Friday, May 20th) the route also passed through the hometown of Glauber Rocha, known as the father of New Wave Brazilian Cinema. His city Vitoria da Conquista welcomed the relay with an array of projected images from Rocha’s most famous productions.
Today (Saturday, May 21st), the torch continues across the south of Bahia through the cocoa-growing region. In one of the day’s highlights, the route will be sprinkled with cologne and lavender in Itabuna. Before this, the relay will pass through the municipality of Itambe, and next, it will visit the towns of Floresta Azul and Ibicarai, to end the day in Ilheus, with cultural performances and sports exhibitions.
Some of the notable torch bearers today are Jocélio de Jesus, or Jojó de Olivença as he is known, who has two Brazilian surfing titles under his belt. Also Evandro Teixeira who is one of Brazil’s most famous photographers, whose pictures have achieved international acclaim and are exhibited in European and South American museums, and Fabricio Parada dos Santos, a mountain biker from Minas Gerais and member of the Bahia state cycling team.
Tomorrow, Sunday, May 22nd, the torch will be carried onto the popular vacation island destination, Morro de São Paulo. Duna Sol, reservation supervisor at Villa das Pedras Pousada, explained the importance of featuring on the torch’s trajectory, “Other than the visibility it will bring to the island, it will bring everyone together – locals and tourists, and give us all one more reason to celebrate TOGETHER!”
Ms. Sol told The Rio Times, “We are all extremely excited! All my friends and I are planning to watch it pass, and most of the people I’ve spoken to as well. It’s something different happening here (which is somewhat small), and therefore this is a once in a lifetime opportunity we do not want to miss!”
The torch relay will end at Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 5th, where it will launch the opening ceremony of the Olympics. The Rio 2016 Games will be the first in South America and is expected to draw over 500,000 international tourists during the Olympics between August 5th and the 21st.