Brazil’s Rousseff Gets Olympics Invite and Chance to Face Foe

  • Brazilian president may be sat near her replacement at event
  • Rousseff says she is suffering a ‘coup’ as Temer takes over

Should Dilma Rousseff attend the Rio Olympics, the suspended Brazilian president will be sitting yards from the man she’s branded a “coup monger.”

The South American country’s sports minister confirmed on Thursday that Rousseff will be invited to attend the opening ceremony of the region’s first games next month, and will be offered a “place of honor.” That would put her in close proximity to Acting President Michel Temer, who took over the top job when Brazil’s Senate put Rousseff on impeachment trial.

“Dilma is invited to join in the opening ceremony in which she will stay in the place of honor, an exclusive space at the Maracana Stadium,” Sports Minister Leonardo Picciani said in a conference call with international media Thursday. “She has prerogative of being the president despite being temporarily removed from office pending trial.”

His comments come days after Rousseff took to social media, demanding that she be allowed to attend the games, a showpiece event that takes place at a time of massive political and economic turmoil in South America’s biggest country.

“I’d like to go to the Olympics because I was responsible for all of its agreements, preparation, and construction,” she said on her Twitter feed. “I’m the mother and Lula is the father of the Olympic games,” Rousseff added, referring to her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. He left the office with record-high popularity ratings, before seeing his reputation take a hit following allegations of impropriety that emerged during a massive corruption probe involving some of the country’s top political and business leaders. He denies any wrongdoing.

Rousseff was suspended from office in May to face an impeachment trial for allegedly manipulating the budget, an accusation she denies. In interviews since her ousting, Rousseff has labeled Temer and his allies as "coup mongers". Temer, who was her vice president despite coming from a different party, denies he plotted to remove her.

Olympic organizers said they also plan to invite all of Brazil’s living former presidents to occupy “places of honor.” Picciani played down Rousseff’s efforts to lead the games, saying she and Lula were just two of a number of actors involved in preparing the country for the world’s biggest sporting event.

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