Mormons are game for Rio Olympics

Few communities boast as many Olympic boosters as Salt Lake City and few countries have more Mormons than Brazil. It's no surprise, then, that Latter-day Saints in both places cheered when Rio de Janeiro landed the 2016 Summer Games.

And they couldn't help but ponder the possible benefits for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"Most Utahns would have preferred it to be Rio than Chicago," said an exuberant Gary Neeleman, who has a longtime connection to the exotic South American destination. "Brazil's a big [LDS] church stronghold in the south."

Indeed, there are more than a million Mormons in the populous nation of 185 million, with 27 missions and at least 4,000 LDS missionaries. Mormon leaders just announced a temple for Fortaleza in northeastern Brazil, the country's seventh.

Through the years, up to 10 percent of the missionary force has been to Brazil and many, like Neeleman, have established permanent religious and business ties there.

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