Protesters Extinguish Olympic Flame During Torch Relay

Olympic Torch
Detail of Olympic Torch at Bernardo Do Campos on July 23, 2016, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Levy Bianco/Brazil Photo Press/LatinContent/Getty Images

Trouble brewing. Protesters in Angra dos Reis in Rio forced the Olympic torch relay to come to a temporary halt on Wednesday, July 27, when a crowd of young people appeared to steal the torch and then extinguish it.

In footage caught by bystanders, government employees — primarily teachers — angry over delayed salary payments descended upon the procession and disrupted the ceremonial proceedings, according to The Washington Post.

According to local news reports, the Brazilian military used teargas and rubber bullets to disband the protesters as law enforcement were assaulted with rocks and bricks.

A Rio 2016 spokesman, Philip Wilkinson, explained to The Guardian that despite reports, however, the fizzle of the flame was not as dramatic as it was made out to be.

“The torch often goes out and is relit,” he said, explaining that there are eight back-up lanterns just in case such an event occurs. “The flame is never extinguished.”

ABC News reports that in the video, someone can be heard shouting triumphantly, “The torch has been put out!” as the torchbearer is brought to safety aboard a bus.

The Olympic torch has gone out during previous games, often due to acts of nature, including wind and rain.

The 300-city relay is scheduled to end on August 5 at the opening ceremony at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium.

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