Rio closes 2016 Olympics stadium

Rio de Janeiro: Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes has confirmed the closure of the city`s 2016 Olympic track and field stadium due to structural problems.

The announcement follows an assessment by an unnamed private construction company which said the Engenhao Stadium posed a safety risk due to ‘cracks’ and ‘movement’ in the roof`s support structure. Paes said the stadium would be closed for an ‘indefinite period’.

"There is a structural problem with the stadium`s roof and we are going to find a definitive solution. The (construction) consortium has shown me what the problems are but at this stage there is still no proposal for a solution. If they tell me the stadium needs to be closed for a month, it will be closed for a month. If it needs to stay closed for a year, it will be closed for a year," Paes said on Tuesday.

Consorcio Engenhao, the building consortium responsible for the project, said it had been collaborating with the local government to find a quick solution.

"We have been involved in talks with the mayor regarding the matter. Tomorrow [Wednesday] we will go into more detail about the technical aspects of the problems found," a spokesperson for the consortium said.

Built for the 2007 Pan-American games, the 47,000-capacity Engenhao Stadium is currently Rio`s only available major football venue. The iconic Maracana Stadium, currently undergoing major refurbishment work, is not expected to host domestic fixtures until after June`s FIFA Confederations Cup.

Officials from Rio`s four biggest clubs - Flamengo, Fluminense, Vasco da Gama and Botafogo - now face a logistical nightmare as they seek suitable venues for state championship, national league and Copa Libertadores matches.

"It`s a delicate situation. Tickets have been sold and there are a number of logistical issues," Fluminense director Rodrigo Caetano said.

The Engenhao closure is the latest in a series of stadium controversies to affect Brazil`s preparations for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics. Only two of the country`s six Confederations Cup venues are ready despite having initially been given a December 2012 construction deadline by FIFA.

The Confederations Cup, which will be held from June 15-30, is considered an organisational warm-up for the World Cup a year later.