Rio de Janeiro’s empty Sambadrome lights up in tribute to Covid victims

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb 12 (efe-epa).- Rio de Janeiro’s Sambadrome will remain quiet and deserted between Friday and Ash Wednesday due to the cancellation of the world’s most famous carnival parade amid the Covid-19 pandemic but will light up at night in tribute to the victims of the coronavirus.

The light show, simulating a carnival parade and highlighting the different colors of the samba schools in Rio de Janeiro, was ignited on Friday by the city’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, to pay homage to the victims of the pandemic.

The special lighting will be activated every night until midnight of Feb.23, a period during which the Sambadrome would have opened its doors for the Champion’s parade of the country’s top samba schools during the now-canceled Carnival of 2021.

The office of Rio’s mayor said in a statement that the light show, which can be watched from a distance since the Sambadrome will remain closed, is an initiative to pay tribute to the victims of Covid-19, especially those from the world of the Carnival and samba.

Carnival parties were canceled in the country’s most iconic city to prevent a further spread of the virus amid a second and deadlier wave of the pandemic in Brazil.

The disease has claimed the most, 237,500, lives in Brazil, which also has the third-highest number of infections at 9.76 million cases.

It is for the first time since its inauguration in 1984 that Rio de Janeiro’s Sambadrome will be closed during what is considered one of the most famous carnivals in the world.

The 700-meter (2,296 feet) long and 13-meter wide track on Marquês de Sapucaí street, surrounded by steep, modern stands for the public and leading to Apotheosis Square was designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer to host the famous parades of the samba schools during the Carnival.

The opulent performances of the samba schools, each with up to 5,000 musicians and dancers impeccably dressed in costumes and with majestic and enormous floats, are considered the greatest open-air spectacle in the world and the biggest attraction of the Carnival.

But this year, the schools will not parade and Rio’s Carnival, except some clandestine troupes threatened with fines, will be limited to virtual shows and the television broadcast of parades from previous years.

The handing over to King Momo of the keys to the city, the event that officially kicks off carnival festivities, was transformed on Friday into a symbolic act to extol Rio’s carnival tradition and pay tribute to Covid-19 victims.

The spectator-less event led by several samba personalities and former composers in front of the Samba Museum, located next to the famous and popular Mangueira Samba School, also served to protest after its cancellation the helpless plight of hundreds of families who depend on the Carnival.

The cancellation of the Carnival has left the streets that used to be filled with millions of revelers deserted, hotels at only half-occupancy, and thousands of locals without a livelihood. EFE-EPA


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