In Brief

Brazil's tourism minister resigns on eve of Rio Olympics

Henrique Alves becomes third government official in a month to resign over country's Petrobas scandal

Brazil's tourism minister, Henrique Alves, has been forced to step down just weeks before the start of the Rio Olympics.

He is the third minister to be forced out of interim president Michel Temer's government in the past month.

The Guardian says Alves "was one of two dozen officials named in plea bargain testimony by a former Petrobras executive linking Temer and several of his closest allies to Brazil's biggest corruption scandal ever". Alves has denied the claims, which were made by Sergio Machado, the former chief executive of Petrobras subsidiary Transpetro.

"I will dedicate myself to facing the allegations with serenity and transparency," Alves said.

Machado, who is also under investigation, reportedly made a plea bargain with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony.

"He said that both Mr Temer and Mr Alves asked him for money for electoral campaigning and knew it would come from an illegal kickbacks scheme that diverted billions of dollars from the national oil company," says the BBC.

The Olympics begin on 5 August.

Rio Olympics: refugee team to send a 'message of hope'

04 March

A Syrian refugee who spent three hours clinging to the side of a dinghy in the Aegean Sea en route to Europe could compete at this summer's Rio Olympics.

Ysra Mardini was forced to leap from the overcrowded boat carrying her and her sister when it began taking on water as they made the crossing from Turkey to Greece last August.

But after spending three hours in the cold waters of the Aegean, the 17-year-old swimmer is now dreaming of the Olympic pool in Rio, reports the Washington Post.

Ysra, who lives in Germany, is one of 43 athletes identified by the International Olympic Committee as potential recruits for a team consisting of refugees to compete at this summer's games under the Olympic flag.

Committee president Thomas Bach believes as many as ten athletes will make it to Brazil.

"We want to send a message of hope to all the refugees of the world," he said.

"The IOC will cover travel and participation expenses, coaches, insurance and the obligatory anti-doping tests, just as a national government would," says the Washington Post. "And like any other country's delegation, the refugee athletes will be housed together in the athlete village, they'll walk in together at the opening ceremony, they'll share uniforms and technical officials."

Among the other athletes under consideration are a judoka from the Democratic Republic of Congo, now living in Brazil, and an Iranian taekwondo fighter training in Belgium, says The Guardian.

It is the first time a team of refugees will compete at the games, reports website Slate.

"Athletes that have lacked national affiliations for various arcane political reasons have competed at previous Olympics as independent entrants," it notes. But this is the first time that refugees - "athletes whose home country has an active, eligible Olympic committee that they're unable to compete for because of displacement" - will have their own team.

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