It’s billed as the biggest show on Earth, but this year’s Carnival underway in Rio de Janeiro is also confirming the Brazilian city’s reputation for crime.
Nearly 100 tourists have been robbed, many by armed gangs, raising questions over whether Rio is safe enough to win a bid to host the 2016 Olympics.
This week, men brandishing knives, a handgun and a grenade trussed up 34 Americans, Britons, Argentines and other foreigners staying in one hostel in the city centre, stealing iPods, money and cameras.
A similar pre-dawn assault on another hostel in Copacabana stripped 13 tourists, including 11 Israelis, of their valuables.
A military patrol that stumbled on a mugging of 10 tourists — six Germans and four Americans — in the south of the city scared off their two attackers.
An Australian woman was also robbed as she arrived at her hostel early on Friday.
Other cases compiled by the city’s Tourist Police service showed at least 94 foreigners have been victims of crime in the city so far this month — 20 per cent more than February 2008, when the last Carnival was held.
Rio’s police, embarrassed by the robberies, have stepped up security.