Man arrested in Brazil for attempt to douse Olympic torch

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A man has been arrested for trying to extinguish the Olympic torch by throwing a bucket of water over it as it passed through his farming town of Maracaju in central Brazil, an officer at the local police station said on Monday.

A cameraman shoots the Rio 2016 Olympic torch during a National Sports Forum seminar in Sao Paulo, Brazil, September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

Police arrested the 27-year-old at the scene on Sunday for damaging public property, the officer said. The Olympic flame continued to burn, video footage showed.

The crime can carry a sentence of between six months and three years in prison.

“He said it was a joke, a dare on Facebook,” the officer in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul said by telephone. He declined to give his name as he is not permitted to talk publicly.

Local Olympic organizing committee Rio 2016 did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The video, available on YouTube, showed a heavy spray of water thrown indiscriminately over the group around the torch bearer by someone out of view.

The man was freed on bail after paying 1,000 reais ($294.74).

The incident comes a week after a rare jaguar was shot and killed after performing in an Olympic torch ceremony, leading to an outcry from animal rights activists around the world.

The torch is on a 20,000 km (12,400 mile) voyage through about 300 Brazilian cities before arriving in Rio de Janeiro for the Games’ opening ceremony on Aug. 5.

Although most of the infrastructure for the Olympics is finished, Rio is scrambling to complete construction of a new metro line to help visitors reach the Games’ venues.

Reporting by Caio Saad; Writing by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Lisa Von Ahn