How a yellow jersey is dividing Brazil, and why the world’s most populous country is not an example for the rest

A yellow jersey. A jersey bearing the coveted rainbow stripes in the colors of the Brazilian flag and often considered the most prestigious award in the sport.

Who’s wearing one? The five members of Team USA in the men’s road race at the Rio Games in 2016.

Why does it matter? Yellow jerseys become a symbol of honor, a badge of courage. For some, it’s an indication of sporting excellence, just like the captain’s hat on a bus or the flag patch on a baseball uniform.

Brazilians are passionate about all things yellow. They’re talking about the sportsmanship shown when their country’s yellow jerseys were introduced in the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.

Now their jersey is among the most important symbols of the country’s identity. But a yellow jersey is not a simple flag on fabric.

“When you wear a yellow jersey, you are taking part not only in a competition, but in an adventure,” Brazil’s national team coach Tite told the sports website Esporte Interativo. “You represent the best of Brazil, in the best manner, to the world’s best.”

The yellow jersey is not just another tool used for commercial marketing. It brings pride to a country that celebrates the diversity of its people. More than 3,500 years ago, the Portuguese arrived in Brazil after sailing across the Atlantic Ocean from Portugal to Brazil. They called the country “Estreito,” or the “Left Coast.”

“To think that we can be an example for the rest of the world, that we can be an example of what we believe is best, that we can be champions and still look like Brazilians — that’s the dream,” said Gabriel Batista de Souza, the sports writer for the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper.

De Souza, who has been an editor at the newspaper for 24 years, is one of more than 100 Brazilians who will participate in a survey organized

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