IOC backs Rio Olympic preps after stadium closure

IOC voices confidence in Rio preparations despite closure of track and field stadium

Associated Press
IOC backs Rio Olympic preps after stadium closure
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FILE - In this Wednesday, July 11, 2007 file photo workers clean the Joao Havelange stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro city officials have been forced to temporarily close the stadium that will be used for track and field at the 2016 Olympics because of structural problems with its roof. Authorities said Tuesday March 26, 2013 that the Joao Havelange Stadium, known locally as the Engenhao, isn't safe to host public events until the problems are fixed. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, File)

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) -- The IOC expressed confidence Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro's preparations for the 2016 Olympics despite the temporary closure of the stadium that will host track and field events.

Rio authorities said they decided to shut the Joao Havelange Stadium because of structural problems with the roof.

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said the stadium closure was no reason for alarm.

"There are still more than 3½ years to go before the games and we are absolutely confident that they will deliver," he told The Associated Press, adding that the IOC is "in regular contact with Rio 2016."

Track and field's governing body said it is monitoring the situation.

"We have noted this and will keep a very close eye on developments," IAAF spokesman Nick Davies told the AP.

Rio officials said Wednesday there is no timetable for the stadium's reopening, but the venue's preparations for the games should not be affected.

"We are continuing with the Olympic projects, they are our responsibility," said Armando Queiroga, president of Rio's department in charge of the stadium. "We are very confident in what we planned to do."

IOC executive director Gilbert Felli reiterated this will be a crucial year for Rio organizers.

"The games are very complicated to organize," he said in Istanbul, where the IOC was assessing the Turkish city's bid for the 2020 Olympics. "The scope is huge. You always have, during the seven years, some key parts. Each organizing committee reaches at some point some difficulty.

"Rio (is) in a key period of delivering the facilities. And as such you have some key monitoring to have. We are not concerned that the Brazilians will not be able to deliver the games."

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes announced the stadium's closure on Tuesday after receiving the reports of structural problems with the roof.

Officials said it could take up to 60 days to evaluate the full extent of the problem and determine a solution. Paes said Tuesday that the venue will remain closed for as long as necessary.

It has been the main Rio stadium since the Maracana closed for renovation ahead of the Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup. It was built for the 2007 Pan American Games.

The venue is expected to be upgraded from a 46,000-capacity stadium to a 60,000-capacity venue for the Olympics, when temporary seats will be added.

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