Riot police have fired tear gas and pepper spray at protesters who obstructed the route of the Olympic flame through a poor neighbourhood of Rio.

In a neighbouring district hundreds of people also protested about the unpaid salaries of public workers in Rio state.

There have been numerous “anti-torch” protests by Brazilians angry that the billions of dollars spent on theOlympic Games could have been used to tackle poverty instead.

Brazil is experiencing a deep recession and suffers from a large inequality gap between the rich and poor. It also suffers from high levels of crime.

Last month Rio’s mayor Eduardo Paes criticised city officials, saying that the police would be unable to cope with the violent crime that has made Rio infamous.

The government is deploying additional police as well as soldiers to beef up security and has reassured visitors that Rio will be safe for them to visit.