No way to hold Rio carnival in July, the city's mayor says

FILE PHOTO: Beija-Flor samba school members perform during the second night of the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes/File Photo

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - It will not be possible to host carnival celebrations in July, Rio de Janeiro's new mayor said on Thursday, as Brazil's second wave of coronavirus infections gathers steam with vaccine supplies still scare in Latin America's biggest country.

Eduardo Paes tweeted that he was aware of the economic and cultural benefits that the world-famous party, originally scheduled for next month, brings to the city. But he said there was no way it could be held even in the middle of the year.

"It makes no sense to me to think at this point that we will be able to hold carnival in July," he said in Twitter thread with photos of himself enjoying previous celebrations. "I would like to inform you that we will not have carnival in the middle of the year in 2021."

The latest delay to this year's celebrations is not a surprise. Brazil is reeling from a brutal second wave in a pandemic that has claimed more than 200,000 lives, the second highest total in the world after the United States.

Meanwhile, the government is under growing pressure over the slow pace of its vaccine rollout.

In September, Rio's samba schools decided to push back celebrations. Liesa, the independent samba league, did not give a new date for the festival, saying it would depend on a vaccine.

Brazil's top 13 samba schools normally parade through the Sambadrome before up to 90,000 local residents, tourists and VIPs celebrating Carnival, with the date changing annually as the festival precedes the Roman Catholic period of Lent.

(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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