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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

After Eras Tour triumphs, Taylor Swift finds trouble in Brazil

Thousands of fans had already traveled to the stadium in Rio de Janeiro by the time the show on Saturday was called off because of safety concerns.

By Amanda Holpuch, Flávia Milhorance and Leonardo Coelho

Taylor Swift was welcomed to Brazil on Thursday by a projection that made the world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro appear as if it were clad in a T-shirt similar to the one she wore in her “You Belong to Me” music video and was decorated with the names of Brazilian states and symbols from her songs.

But tragedy and trouble have followed that warm welcome.

A fan died in the sweltering heat at Friday night’s show in Rio de Janeiro. At the eleventh hour, Swift postponed her Saturday show until Monday, to the dismay of thousands of fans who had already started filling the stadium. The military police said a fan who was in Rio de Janeiro for the regularly scheduled concert Sunday was stabbed to death earlier that morning.

The fatalities and other problems were a departure from the triumphant first leg of Swift’s Eras Tour, a career-spanning production that broke records in North America. As the tour’s second show in Rio de Janeiro approached Sunday night, fans grappled with ruined travel plans, extreme heat and disappointment.

Anne Di Motta, 30, a psychologist in Sao Paulo, Brazil, was supposed to attend the Saturday night show and said she would be returning home before the rescheduled concert on Monday because she had to work.

“I spent the last 17 years waiting for the opportunity to go, to fulfill my teenage dream of meeting someone I’ve known since her first single,” Di Motta said. “And to be sitting three hours in a chair, completely wet with sweat, having to overcome several personal challenges to be there completely alone, to receive the news that it was canceled — it was completely devastating.”

The Saturday night show was postponed because of the extreme temperatures, Swift said in an Instagram post hours before the concert was supposed to begin at an open-air soccer stadium. “The safety and well-being of my fans, fellow performers and crew has to and always will come first,” she said.

At that point, thousands of fans had traveled to see Swift, enduring the peak of the day’s heat, which reached 93 degrees Fahrenheit, or 33 degrees Celsius, before they were asked to leave the venue.

A representative for Swift did not immediately respond to emailed questions about the postponement of the Saturday show.

The Rio shows came after Swift performed in Argentina, the first stop on the Eras Tour outside North America. She had to move one show in Buenos Aires because of a storm. She is scheduled to perform in Sao Paulo on Nov. 24, Nov. 25 and Nov. 26, before traveling next year to cities across South America, Asia, Australia and Europe.

Gabriela Werner, 24, a marketing analyst, bought tickets for each show in Rio and two in Sao Paulo, and said she started preparing for the heat three months ago by working out in a gym without air conditioning in the middle of the day. She lives in Porto Alegre, about 700 miles southwest of Rio.

While waiting in line for Sunday night’s concert, Werner said the atmosphere was much calmer than that of the Friday show. “It’s not so hot, and everyone’s kind of holding back because of the nights before and everything that happened,” she said.

She did not expect Swift to return to Brazil. “I’m sure she’s traumatized,” Werner said.

Werner, like many other fans, blamed the Brazilian company that organized the show, Time for Fun, for the problems. Wadih Damous, the head of Brazil’s consumer protection agency, said the government would investigate Time for Fun. The company said Saturday that it would add staff, provide free water and allow fans to enter the stadium with water and food.

As crowds left the stadium Saturday night, there were reports of unrest near the site, police said.

After Matheus Duarte, 24, a warehouse worker, left the stadium and went to a shopping mall nearby, he saw people yelling that there was a raid.

“I don’t really know if it really happened, but I saw desperate people running,” Duarte said. “And as soon as I saw it, I started running along and hid in a car park.”

On Sunday, the military police said there had been no reports of robberies or muggings the night before. But before the concert Sunday, a fan in Rio de Janeiro for the concert was stabbed to death after an attempted robbery in Copacabana, the famous beachside strip, the military police said. Two men had been arrested, they said. The fan, Gabriel Mongenot Santana Milhomem Santos, was with friends when he was stabbed, the civil police said.

During Friday’s show, Ana Clara Benevides, 23, died after losing consciousness, officials said. She was pronounced dead of cardiac arrest after being taken to a hospital, according to city officials and Time for Fun.

Benevides, a psychology student, had traveled from Rondonópolis, which is about 880 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro, for the concert, O Globo reported. Her friend Emiliane Félix, 22, told O Globo that Benevides had been sending her friends photos of her outfits for the concert “for over a month.”

On X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, Benevides shared her excitement about the concert, writing on Nov. 7, “I don’t know what my purpose in life will be after I see Taylor.”

Fans at the concert Friday complained about a lack of water and extreme heat. The heat index, a measure of how hot the air feels because of humidity, reached 139 degrees Fahrenheit, a record for Rio.

In an online post, Swift said she was “devastated” by her fan’s death. “I’m not going to be able to speak about this from stage because I feel overwhelmed by grief when I even try to talk about it,” she said.

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