Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil hosts first World Indigenous Games in Palmas

Indigenous people from the Brazilian Kayapo tribe watch a football match during I World Games for Indigenous People (22/10/2015) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The games include football as well as traditional indigenous sports like archery and spear tossing

Some 2,000 athletes from many indigenous ethnic groups and 30 countries are taking part in the first World Indigenous Games.

The event in the northern Brazilian city of Palmas officially gets under way on Friday and will end on 31 October.

President Dilma Rousseff is expected to attend the lavish opening ceremony.

On Thursday, the participants took part in a traditional fire-lighting ceremony in Palmas's central square.

Indigenous peoples from countries including Ethiopia, Mongolia and Brazil sang and danced at the ceremony, dressed in traditional outfits.

The football tournament also began on Thursday.

Among the sports included in the games are archery, spear tossing, canoeing and a race through the forest.

There will be non-competitive events showcasing the many different traditions of indigenous ethnic groups involved, such as a football-style game called xikunahity in which the ball is controlled only with the head.

It is played in the Matto Gross region of Brazil.

As well as peoples from across the Americas, there are delegations from Australia, Russia, the Philippines, Ethiopia and New Zealand.

From Brazil alone, 24 different indigenous groups are taking part.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Brazil's indigenous people now make up just 0.5% of the country's 200 million-strong population

On Thursday, a small group of indigenous people protested against the cost of staging the games, saying the money would have been better spent on improving the lives of Brazil's indigenous people.

Image copyright AP
Image caption For some, the cost of the games was too high

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