The mayor of Rio De Janeiro might have skipped the Rio Carnival's opening ceremony, but that did not stop droves of people enjoying the celebrations.

Pentecostal Evangelical Mayor Marcelo Crivella delayed the starting ceremony until 8.30 p.m, only for one of his ministers to later announce that he would not be attending as his wife was unwell.

"His wife is sick, " culture chief Nilcemar Nogueira said.

"She has a very bad flu," the city tourism boss, Marcelo Alves, added. Alves who ended up giving the ceremonial key to the city to the carnival king on the mayor's behalf.

It was rumoured that Crivella would not attend the festival due to the racy content of the celebrations challenged the mayor's religious beliefs.

Before taking the role, Crivella was a bishop for the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, which was founded by his uncle, Edir Macedo. The church has around 8 million members in Brazil. In 2007, Macedo was charged with fraud and money laundering, having been accused of diverting millions of charitable donations.

The mayor was meant to give the carnival king, known as Rei Momo, the ceremonial key to the city.

Rei Momo, the figure who is responsible for announcing the start of the festival, was also escorted out of the Sambódromo by security guards and did not give any interviews, unlike in recent years.

"The mayor 'should separate religion from politics at our Carnival'," said Marisol Portela, a homemaker who had gone to the Sambódromo, to Associated Press. "He will not be missed. We will throw our party anyway."

The landmark five-day festival brings more than $1bn (£800m) to Rio each year.

The Latin American country has been rife with political unrest since the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in 2016.

Brazil's first female president was removed from office following charges that she had manipulated the state budget in an attempt to hide the country's ever-increasing economic problems.

Rio Carnival first began in 1723. The festival, famed for its street festivals, samba classes and illustrious outfits is expected to attract two million visitors a day in 2017, making it the largest festival of its kind in the world.