“We came to the conclusion that the event should be postponed,” said Jorge Castanheira, president of the group that organizes the annual parades, the Independent League of Samba Schools of Rio de Janeiro (LIESA).
“It’s getting harder and harder to have Carnival without a vaccine. There is no way to have carnival without security. ”
Brazil faces the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreak after the United States and the Rio Carnival would pose a huge risk: a prolonged festival of tight crowds dancing in the streets and flocking to the iconic “Sambadrome” of the town for huge parades and party the night away.
The festival annually attracts millions of national and international tourists to the seaside town.
LIESA’s announcement only applies to the Samba Schools Competition, which involves the top 13 samba schools in the country. Carnival also includes many other events, including less formal street parties (“bloco”). City officials have yet to say if they will be allowed.
Speculation was mounting that authorities would have to cancel or postpone the carnival in 2021, given that Brazil still struggles to bring the virus under control.
Brazil has diagnosed 4.66 million cases of COVID-19 and infections and nearly 140,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
On average, nearly 30,000 new cases and 735 new deaths have been recorded every day over the past two weeks, according to figures from its Department of Health.
Rio de Janeiro was the most affected state after Sao Paulo.