Rio de Janeiro's Famed Carnival Has Been Canceled for 2021

view of Academicos do Salgueiro Samba School performance during the 2020 Rio de Janeiro Carnival champions' parade

Less than a year ago, the streets of Rio de Janeiro were filled with people — friends and strangers alike — reveling maskless within a six-foot radius for Carnival, the city's annual celebration of colorful costumes and extravagance. Little did they know at the time, but the late February event would be one of the last semblances of any crowd-inducing tradition held anywhere on the globe. And on Feb. 26, 2020, the last day of Carnival, Brazil confirmed its first case of COVID-19.

As the deadly impact of the worldwide pandemic stretched throughout 2020, officials announced in September that the annual February event would be pushed back to July 2021, delaying the celebration for the first time in a century. But last Thursday, Rio's mayor made an even more historic announcement — Carnival would be canceled for 2021.

"I have never hidden my passion for Carnival and the clear vision I have of the economic importance of this cultural manifestation for our city," Rio mayor Eduardo Paes posted on Facebook. "However, it seems pointless to me to imagine at this point that we will be able to hold the carnival in July."

He continued: "This celebration requires great preparation from the public authorities and the samba-related gatherings and institutions. Something impossible to do right now. Thus, I would like to inform you that we will not have Carnival in the middle of the year in 2021." He concluded his post with some hope for the future, writing, "Surely, in 2022, we will be able (all properly vaccinated) to celebrate life and our culture with all the intensity we deserve."

That vaccination goal has been accompanied with challenges, as shortages and shipping delays have plagued the rollout, ABC News reported. The South American nation is currently in the midst of a harrowing second wave of the pandemic, and has had 8.8 million confirmed cases (the third highest behind the U.S. and India) and 217,037 deaths (the second highest after the U.S.), according to data from the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

The last time there was any interruption to Rio's Carnival was in 1912, when the festivities were pushed back two months after the death of the country's foreign relations minister.

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