As the number of coronavirus deaths worldwide looked set to pass a million within days, Rio de Janeiro delayed its annual Carnival parade for the first time in a century because of Brazil’s continued vulnerability in the pandemic.
Brazil, which has the second-worst death toll worldwide with 139,000, and the third-most cases, with 4.6m, cancelled its carnival parade, which usually takes place in February, for the first time in 100 years. Rio’s League of Samba Schools, LIESA, announced that the spread of the coronavirus had made it impossible to safely hold the traditional event.
Rio’s authorities are yet to announce a decision about the carnival street parties that also take place across the city. But its tourism promotion agency said in a statement to the Associated Press on 17 September that without a coronavirus vaccine, it was uncertain when large public events could resume.
Brazil’s first case was confirmed on 26 February, one day after this year’s carnival ended. As the number of infections grew, the samba schools that participate in the glitzy annual parade halted preparations for the 2021 event. This announcement removed the cloud of uncertainty that has hung over the city, one of worst hit in Brazil.