Rio stadium to reopen after two years of repairs

Fri Jan 9, 2015 2:38pm EST
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By Andrew Downie

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The Rio de Janeiro stadium that is to host athletics at the 2016 Olympics will reopen next month after almost two years of repair work, according to the president of the Botafogo soccer club that play there.

The 45,000-capacity Joao Havelange Olympic Stadium (Engenhao), completed in 2007 for the Pan American Games, was closed in March 2013 after officials discovered the roof was in danger of collapse.

On Friday, Botafogo president Carlos Eduardo Pereira said his club would play Boavista there in the Rio de Janeiro state championship next month.

"We have just left a meeting with Mayor Eduardo Paes and can confirm Botafogo will open their campaign on Feb. 1 at the Engenhao," Pereira told the Arena Sportv television show.

The lower tier, which seats 20,000, will be opened next month and the rest will follow at a later date.

Pereira also said the club had officially asked to change the name of the venue to the Nilton Santos Olympic Stadium, in tribute to the Botafogo full back who won a World Cup winner's medal in 1958 and 1962.

The ground, owned by the city and leased to Botafogo, is called the Joao Havelange Olympic Stadium after the former president of world soccer's ruling body FIFA.

Havelange was also a member of the International Olympic Committee until he resigned from the IOC in 2011 after being accused of taking bribes. Some fans now want his name stripped from the stadium title.   Continued...

A view of the Joao Havelange Olympic Stadium, undergoing renovation to stage athletic competitions during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, during the 2nd world press briefing for the games in Rio de Janeiro August 6, 2014.  REUTERS/Sergio Moraes