As the number of coronavirus deaths worldwide surpasses 1 million, Rio de Janeiro has delayed its annual Carnival parade for the first time in a century.
According to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, Brazil has the second-worst death toll worldwide, with more than 140,000 deaths and more than 4.7 million confirmed cases.
Carnival organizers concluded the global event could not go on because of Brazil’s vulnerability to the coronavirus. The traditional parades attract more than 7 million people over the course of five days.
Rio’s League of Samba Schools, LIESA, said the continued spread of the coronavirus has made it impossible to safely hold the traditional parades that are a cultural mainstay, and, for many, a huge portion of locals’ livelihood.
“Carnival is a party upon which many humble workers depend. The samba schools are community institutions, and the parades are just one detail of all that,” Luiz Antonio Simas, a historian who specializes in Rio’s Carnival, told the Associated Press. “An entire cultural and productive chain was disrupted by COVID.”
Organizers have not announced a new date for the delayed event but Rio’s tourism agency said that it’s uncertain to know when large public events can resume without a coronavirus vaccine.
The festival was scheduled from Feb.12th through Feb. 17th, 2021, which is known to attract 2 million people per day to parties on the Brazilian city streets known as blocos.
The last year Rio’s Carnival was suspended was 1912, following the foreign relations minister’s death at the time.
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Trinidad Also Cancels Famed Carnival Festival
Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley announced the cancellation of the island’s carnival festival as well.
The event held before Ash Wednesday attracts thousands of visitors every year, and generated more than $3 million last year, as reported in the Associated Press.
The announcement came one week after Rio de Janeiro announced the city’s famed carnival celebration would be canceled.