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How close is Brazil to the one shown by the Torch Relay?

| Rio de Janeiro | lupa@lupa.news
05.maio.2016 | 16h50 |

Since April 3rd 2016 the Olympic Torch has been in Brazil, visiting 327 cities and announcing that the 2016 Olympic Games are getting closer and closer. According to the schedule set by the official committee, in three months, on August 4th, the flame will arrive in Rio de Janeiro for the Opening Ceremony, set to be held on the following day. The idea behind the Torch Relay is to gather the entire country around the Olympic spirit.

But what will the Torch see (and show worldwide) during the next three months? How close is this Brazil to the real one?

Agência Lupa, a fact-checking start-up based in Rio de Janeiro, decided to check data from the Human Development Index (HDI), published by the UNPD in 2013, for the cities visited by the Torch and found out that it will see a much more “human developed” country then the real Brazil while it finds its way to Rio. See the results here.

The HDI ranking system is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income per capita indicators per city which gauges potential human development in each city. It ranks them on a scale from 0 to 1, with 1 being the highest score possible with up to 3 decimal points.

Given that Brazil has 5,565 cities and that they were all covered by the last UNPD study, Lupa concluded that:

1) Of the 327 cities that will be visited by the Olympic Torch, 182 (55%) have an HDI above the national average, which is 0.727. In the entire country, 1,135 out of 5,565 or only 20% (a much lower proportion) have the same index or better.

2) Brazil has 32 cities with “very low” HDI – between 0 and 0.499. They represent 0.6% out of the total number of cities evaluated by UNPD in Brazil. On its way to Rio, the Torch won’t see any of these.

3) A total of 1,367 cities have a “low” HDI – between 0.500 and 0.599. They represent 24.6% of the total number of cities in Brazil. But the percentage among the group of hosting cities is a lot lower. Only 20 cities with “low” HDI ranking will see the flame live, or 6,1% of the entire official route.

4) Brazil has 2,333 cities that were classified as “medium” HDI, between 0.600 and 0.699. This is the biggest group among those 5,565 cities. It equates to 40.1% of the total number of cities, but, on the Torch’s itineraty, there are 78 within this range, under-representing this group considerably, with 23.8% of the total cities visited;

5) Nationally, 1,889 cities or 33.9% are ranked “high” HDI, between 0.700 and 0.799. Of the 327 hosting cities, 59.9%, the clear majority with 196 in this group, making it the best represented group of all.

6) Finally, Brazil has 44 cities ranked as having a “very high” HDI, with scores of over 0.800. The flame will visit three quarters of theses, or 33 in total. These cities make up 10% of those visited by the Torch, a much higher proportion than other HDI categories.

7) The least developed city that the Torch will visit is Murici, in the northeast state of Alagoas. The city has a population of 26,000 inhabitants and life expectancy is 66.1 years. One quarter of Murici’s inhabitants live in “extreme poverty” conditions and 39.5% are illiterate.

8) São Caetano do Sul, in the state of São Paulo in Southeast Brazil, is on the other end of the scale. It has the highest HDI in the country and a population of 150,000. Life expectancy there is 78.2 years and only 0.09% of its inhabitants live in “extreme poverty” conditions. Only 1.8% of them are illiterate.


Lupa reached out to the Rio 2016 official committee in order to understand the criteria behind the 327 cities that were chosen to be on the Torch’s route. The committee informed that “the cities were selected to show how diverse Brazil is” and to “meet cities interests”. It also said that the “route was designed by the committee based on logistical factors while searching for partnerships with the cities, which have to offer security, health care and an efficient traffic control” during the Torch Relay. The cities must be able to support a group of around 500 people who will follow the Torch on its way to the Opening Ceremony.

* Note: After this article was published (Portuguese version here), Lupa started to follow the Torch on Twitter and is publishing data on each city visited by the flame. Please join us at @LupaNews

** Note 2: Excuse us in case you find any mistakes in translation 😉

O conteúdo produzido pela Lupa é de inteira responsabilidade da agência e não pode ser publicado, transmitido, reescrito ou redistribuído sem autorização prévia.

A Agência Lupa é membro verificado da International Fact-checking Network (IFCN). Cumpre os cinco princípios éticos estabelecidos pela rede de checadores e passa por auditorias independentes todos os anos

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