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Riding out the pandemic, Rio surfers catch a wave of controversy

Video Credit: Reuters - Sports - Duration: 05:27s - Published
Riding out the pandemic, Rio surfers catch a wave of controversy

Riding out the pandemic, Rio surfers catch a wave of controversy

Despite stay-at-home orders aiming to protect people from the new coronavirus, many of Rio de Janeiro's famous beaches have been buzzing with surfers seeking to catch the season's first big swell

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VIDEO SHOWS: PEOPLE SURFING IN RIO DE JANEIRO BRAZIL AS QUARANTINE RESTRICTIONS HAVE CLOSED THE BEACHES, VARIOUS SOUNDBITES FROM SURFERS AND ONE SOUNDBITE FROM THE GOVERNOR OF RIO DE JANEIRO STATE RESENDING WITH COMPLETE SHOTLIST AND SCRIPT SHOWS: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (APRIL 04, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1.

SURFER WALKING DOWN NEARLY EMPTY BEACH 2.

SUFER ON WATER 3.

BODYBOARDER, GUILHERME WANDERLEY MACHADO FARIA, ON BEACH 4.

FARIA BODYBOARDING 5.

(SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) BODYBOARDER, GUILHERME WANDERLEY MACHADO FARIA, SAYING: "Unfortunately, I was caught (by the police) surfing.

Surfing is a crime now." 6.

FARIA BODYBOARDING 7.

(SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) BODYBOARDER, GUILHERME WANDERLEY MACHADO FARIA, SAYING: "I hope I don't end up with a criminal record for something as silly as that." 8.

FARIA BODYBOARDING 9.

POLICE VEHICLES PATROLLING STREET 10.

VARIOUS, POLICE ON BEACH WITH SURFERS IN BACKGROUND 11.

POLICE OFFICER TELLING SURFER TO LEAVE BEACH RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (RECENT - MARCH 30, 2020) (RIO DE JANEIRO STATE GOVERNMENT TV - ACCESS ALL) 12.

(SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) RIO DE JANEIRO STATE GOVERNOR, WILSON WITZEL, SAYING: "Do not challenge the virus, do not challenge the pandemic.

Because if you do, I will determine what criminal punishment should be applied by the military and civil police." RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (APRIL 04, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 13.

VARIOUS, SURFERS IN OCEAN 14.

BODYBOARDER IN OCEAN 15.

BODYSURFER CATCHING WAVE 16.

PERSON WITH FACE MASK WALKS BY ON BEACH RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (APRIL 03, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 17.

VARIOUS, SURFER AND JOURNALIST, BRUNO BOCAYUVA, EXERCISING ON ROOF 18.

(SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) SURFER AND JOURNALIST, BRUNO BOCAYUVA, SAYING: "I'm really missing the feeling of being in the water, of paddling and piercing through a wave, of connecting with nature through surfing, which allows for that intimate action.

But, I know right now is the time to think about the collective.

So, I suppress my desire, and I catch that wave, metaphorically speaking, to surf in the near future." 19.

BOCAYUVA HOLDING HIS SURFBOARD 20.

VARIOUS, BOCAYUVA ENTERING HIS APARTMENT BUILDING 21.

LIFE GUARD POST ON LEBLON BEACH 22.

CHOPPY WAVES 23.

SLOW MOTION OF WAVES / SURFER, RICARDO BOCAO, CATCHING WAVE 24.

BOCOA LEAVING WATER 25.

BOCAO BY BIKE LANE 26.

(SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) SURFER, RICARDO BOCAO, SAYING: "I came early today to really try to avoid this total isolation controversy.

But I think that in the same way that people run, they hike, they ride bikes, somebody can grab a board, leave the house, go directly to the water, paddle and go home." 27.

BOCAO ON OCEAN 28.

BOCAO LOADING HIS BOARD INTO CAR 29.

BOCAO DRIVING HOME STORY: Despite stay-at-home orders aiming to protect people from the new coronavirus, many of Rio de Janeiro's famous beaches have been buzzing with surfers seeking to catch the season's first big swell.

That has thrown surfers such as Guilherme Faria headlong into a public debate about the legal limits on outdoor sports - in his case, a question that will be soon be decided by a judge.

The 22-year-old said he was catching 9-foot curlers on Copacabana Beach on Sunday (April 05) morning when a policeman with a whistle between his teeth hauled him out of the water and down to the station.

"Unfortunately, I was caught surfing," said Faria, who received a court summons - seen by Reuters - after his booking.

"I hope I don't end up with a criminal record for something as silly as that." A few hours later, even with the threat of a fine, Faria and his board were back in the Copacabana surf.

Like thousands of Rio's famously sporty locals, Faria could not resist the call of the outdoors.

The esplanade lining the city shore is packed with joggers.

Groups of spandex-clad bicyclists zip up and down the city's serpentine mountain roads.

On March 17, city and state officials implored residents to stay at home, nominally closing beaches and city parks as the coronavirus pandemic tears through Latin America's third-largest city.

Rio is Brazil's second-most infected state, according to the Health Ministry, which reported 12,056 confirmed coronavirus cases across the country as of Monday (April 07).

Some athletes have complied, citing the danger of spreading the disease en route to beaches.

Many argue that sports-related injuries could divert vital medical resources away from the coronavirus fight.

The debate has also roiled other solo sports, from skiing to climbing.

Yet some surfers have argued they merely cross over the sand to enter the ocean or even enter the water via rocky outcroppings.

Still, many athletes acknowledge their concerns pale next to the challenge Brazil faces.

State governors, including those in Rio de Janeiro, have warned that underfunded public healthcare systems could soon collapse.

Bruno Bocayuva, a surfing journalist in Rio, has given up surfing for weeks in favor of jumping rope, doing push-ups and keeping in shape any way he can.

In Brazil, a surf-crazed nation where urban beaches are often clogged before and after work, the debate has taken an acrimonious and even political turn.

President Jair Bolsonaro has berated Rio Governor Wilson Witzel for closing beaches, calling the move "dictatorial." With or without a decree, many surfers are simply doing what they can to dodge attention - and each other.

"I came early to avoid this total isolation controversy," said Ricardo Bacão, a 65-year-old surfer from Rio's Ipanema neighborhood, as he exited the water on Friday (April 03) morning.

"In the same way that people run, they hike, they ride bikes, somebody can grab a board, leave the house, go directly to the water, paddle and go home." (Production: Sergio Queiroz)



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