IOC backs Rio Olympic preps after stadium closure

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 3 1/2 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


”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


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.